24th Jun 2013 12:00 PM
A Northland religious group wants to give free lunches to the region’s 7000-plus students at low-decile schools and is about to go to the Government with a proposal for the scheme.
The Hare Krishna community runs the Food For Life Centre in Whangarei that provides koha meals to the public and gives a free hot lunch to 350 students at Whangarei’s Manaia View and Otangarei Schools once a week.
Whangarei Food For Life Centre co-ordinator Buddhi Wilcox said the centre was working on a proposal to put to the Government to extend its food-in-schools programme to provide free hot lunches to the 7000-plus students at low-decile primary schools in Northland.
Mr Wilcox said Manaia View and Otangarei Schools were noticing the benefits of a free lunch for its students and Food For Life wanted to extend the programme to run along similar lines to Food For Life programmes overseas.
In India one Food For Life Centre provides 100,000 free school meals every day, the centre providing half the money and the Indian Government the rest, and Mr Wilcox said providing a healthy, hot lunch to roughly 7000 students at low-decile Northland would cost about $2 for each meal.
“We’d hope the Government could pay $1 of that and we would fundraise to pay the other $1. It’s not expensive, but it gives the students who need it most a hot, healthy meal,” he said.
Mr Wilcox will ask Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira to take the centre’s proposal to the Government. Mr Harawira has his own Feed the Kids Bill before Parliament that focuses on ensuring every child at every decile-one to two school gets a decent breakfast and lunch.
Manaia View School principal Leanne Otene said earlier that research showed a healthy body helped keep the mind healthy, and healthy food was a major part of that philosophy.
Food For Life recently got a $30,000 grant from the Sutherland Self Help Trust to expand the kitchen at its Water St centre.
Mr Wilcox said the expanded kitchen would enable the centre to cook up to 1000 meals a day.
However, if the Government took up the centre’s proposal the kitchen would need to expand much further.