Keep our free school lunches: Bishop Viard College students

Published on 28th Mar, 2024
Emelia Gaualofa-Wright, one of Bishop Viard Colleges head students leading the activation. Photo: Supplied

WelCom April 2024

Students at Bishop Viard College Porirua have posted a video on YouTube in which they discuss the benefits of the free school lunch programme – Ka Ora, Ka Ko. The Government proposes to review the programme ahead of Budget 2024 in May, and Associate Education Minister and ACT leader David Seymour has stated he wants to cut the programme by up to 50 per cent.

Students Emelia Gaualofa-Wright and Henry Tanuvasa front the video. They say they not only love their school lunches but know the value it is giving to students and whānau. 

Rather than leaving it up to those in Parliament to decide on the future of the programme, most of whom, the students say, ‘don’t have experience of living in communities where food and social security and its many flow-on implications are experienced’, they made the short video message to share their lived experiences of the positive benefits of the healthy school lunches programme ahead of stats and data.

Students and teachers are interviewed about the programme benefits for students and whānau and other students across Aotearoa are challenged to give their perspectives about whether their schools provide healthy school lunches. Students around the country are invited to let their local MPs know, as well as Mr Seymour, their views through social media or to ‘go retro’ and write them a letter. 

Bishop Viard College students say the lunches are ‘very nice, restaurant quality even’, that ‘some kids struggling financially might not be able to afford’, and that ‘free lunches make it easier for families’.

The young people say they would be disappointed if the lunches were taken away because a lot of them rely on the lunches and removal would add to the cost-of-living stress. 

‘Having free lunches helps in class because some of us don’t eat breakfast in the morning, and eating lunches gives us energy throughout the day.’

The programme is a really important social justice initiative. ‘It’s important for all of the students at the school to be fed. It’s a basic necessity to be able to learn. It has to continue or kids simply won’t come to school. The incentive to come to school is that they know they are going to be fed. They love it.’

Director of Religious Studies, Peter Setefano, says, ‘Our school is rich in diversity and culture but not so rich in resources. I have no doubt having school lunches is providing the benefits our students need for their learning, their nutrition, their hauora, their social wellbeing, and it’s nothing but positivity. If it doesn’t reflect in the stats it definitely reflects on the ground level. Our kids are happier, especially after lunch, they’re settled, not so disruptive, so keep the school lunches please.’

The video concludes with an invitation to Mr Seymour to come out to the school to have a free lunch with the students to consult with their expertise, and to talk to them about decisions that affect them.

The YouTube video can be viewed via:

The post ‘Keep our free school lunches’ Bishop Viard College students say first appeared on Archdiocese of Wellington.

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