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While threats of cuts loom over the Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunch Programme, new analysis shows the programme is meeting and, in some cases, exceeding expectations when measured against stakeholder criteria. 

In the latest Briefing from the Public Health Communication Centre, University of Auckland Professor Boyd Swinburn and co-authors have used a Value for Investment analysis to examine what the programme is expected to produce, and how it measures up.

Professor Swinburn says Ka Ora, Ka Ako rates extremely well against its primary outcomes of alleviating hunger in schools, providing healthy eating, reducing financial burden, increasing mana, and strengthening local economies. 

“The mental health scores for those kids who are food insecure has increased 20% meaning happier, more engaged students and that is a big plus for the programme,” he says adding hungry kids are hangry kids making learning maths and science near impossible. “The range of positive feedback from the school surveys of benefits in school engagement is also strong and consistent and the latest analysis of school attendance showed significantly greater attendance amongst the most underserved kids,” says Professor Swinburn.

The programme also meets all relevant government and ministry policies and procedures on economic measures, buying at appropriate quality at the right price.

The analysis shows that the fact that all children in the participating schools are entitled to the lunches contributes significantly to efficiency. However, Professor Swinburn says the main barrier to improved efficiency is the lack of certainty about the programme’s future. 

On the equity criteria, presently schools which are offered the programme have students who are the most disadvantaged but according to Professor Swinburn that means about 60% of students from food insecure households are not in the programme.

Professor Swinburn says Ka Ora, Ka Ako is performing very well against 21 stakeholder criteria but there is room for improvement such as having secure funding for the programme. “We also suggest identifying ways to expand the programme, undertaking a formal cost-effectiveness study, and building in more environmental sustainability aspects


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