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Government must Provide Lunches to all Primary School Children

By August 24, 2021No Comments

Today in Parliament I asked the Minister for Education the following question:

Minister, I note that your school lunch pilot program will be delivered to 15 schools next year and 15 more the year after, bringing the total to 30, barely one fifth of Tasmania’s 146 kinder to grade 6 schools.

And it’s still only a pilot.

Firstly, I am puzzled by the funding announcement. There will be $700,000 in 2022 for 15 schools. Then $700,000 in 2023 presumably to keep delivering to the 15 schools from 2022, but also for the 15 schools added in 2023. How does that work? Shouldn’t that be $1.4 million in 2023?

More fundamentally, will you acknowledge that the pilot to date has without doubt proven the worth of the scheme, and will you now deliver a healthy lunch program to all primary students in Tasmanian government schools?

Unfortunately, all Ms Courtney could confirm is that the pilot would continue, even though the Menzies Centre found that a pilot in 2020, where hot lunches were provided in several schools, was overwhelmingly welcomed by parents, teachers, canteen managers and students.

They all wanted it to become a permanent fixture.

Further, Ms Courtney failed to address my concerns regarding funding. The government thinks it can double the number of schools receiving the lunch program, while keeping the funding constant. I ask again, how will that work?

If the Minister truly believes that a good diet at a young age will improve education outcomes and attendances, and help to instill healthy eating habits into adulthood, then she must introduce a healthy lunch program, properly funded, to all primary school students in government schools.

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