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How long does the ministry take to prepare a healthy school lunch?

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Health experts are puzzled by the government’s announcement in the Ministry of Education’s schools bulletin yesterday [1]
No immediate changes to the foods and drinks offered by schools, after an eight-week consultation in April of this year showed strong support for healthy changes.

Selah Hart, CEO of Hāpai te Hauora, said, “Hāpai and other community organizations have chosen to aggressively participate in this consultation together through the Health Coalition Aotearoa, because only healthy kai and wai being provided or sold by all schools is inconsequential for the health of tamariki and rangitahi That’s it, those are the comments – let’s just do this for our kids.”

“While I am encouraged that the Department of Education says it will bring healthy drink regulations for primary and secondary schools and kura on track, it doesn’t make sense to wait. Why would they need more ‘barrier exploration’ to implement one of the private counseling options? Isn’t that all about counseling?” It is not good for communities to add barriers to public health action through endless ministerial reporting rounds.”

“Community providers are already here to get what families have told us they need hauora. We were hoping the government would respond to strong comments as decisively as community organizations, and just announce a healthy food and drink duty for schools currently.”

The HCA member of the Open Forum on Health Information ran a petition asking for regulations to provide healthy food and drink to all schools with more than 1,300 signatures. Company spokeswoman Shona Gaunas was relieved that the ministry had received the message that the letter presenters wanted healthy food environments for all children.

“I am particularly pleased that the Department of Education will be working with the Department of Health on healthy school food options as we have requested. Food affects children’s mood and learning – it is clearly a health issue, and the health system needs to be involved,” she said.

“However, there is no need for it to take more than a year to write the report on implementation options for Kay’s health provisions, as the government has suggested. School healthy food and beverages are among the easiest structural things any government can do to improve young people’s health. We already have guidance on Healthy food and drink from the Ministry of Health and many schools are healthy eating areas through the Ka Ora Ka Ako program.”

“Ultimately, the response points in the right direction, working across ministries to implement policy that gives children the best start in life and learning. There is no reason to delay this until around 2024 – especially after indicators of healthy nutrition show a shocking negative impact on children’s health over the two years.” the last two [2]. We are more than happy to work with the government on practical steps to expedite this. Children’s growing bodies and minds can’t wait to wait.”

[1] See the advertisement “Promoting healthy food and nutrition” at Halfway down.

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