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Greens: Govt Wrong To Dump School Food Guidelines Says Public

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Sue Kedley
Sue Kedley

The Government should listen to New Zealanders, admit it was wrong to dump school food guidelines earlier this year, and reinstate them," said Green Party Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

A 16,000 signature petition being presented to Parliament today calling for the re-instatement of the school food guidelines was evidence of widespread support in New Zealand for healthy food in schools," Ms Kedgley said.

"The Government needs to listen to public opinion on this issue. Most New Zealanders recognise the importance of encouraging healthy eating amongst children, and want to see schools selling healthy food."

A briefing paper from officials, obtained by the Green Party, showed that a week before the final decision to scrap the School Food Guidelines, concerns were raised about children's health:

"Numerous studies have shown poor nutrition and health adversely affects educational achievement, and Pacific and Maori students are especially vulnerable in this respect. For example in a recent study of seven South Auckland secondary schools 58% of students were found to be overweight or obese. The same study reported that tuck shops were the primary source of lunch for around half of these students." Advice to the Minister 30 January 2009.

The Ministry of Health spent more than four years working on the guidelines, at a cost of $4.5 million dollars. According to an Education Review Office report more than 90 percent of schools were meeting the school food guidelines when the Minister pulled the plug.

"Having scrapped the school food guidelines, schools are free to sell junk food such as fizzy drinks, chippies, donuts and sausage rolls and many are. Schools could also sell highly caffeinated energy drinks if they wanted," Ms Kedgley said.

A Green Party survey earlier this year showed that unhealthy food is still sold in most schools.

"Why would we encourage children to eat food that we know is contributing to obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental decay?" Ms Kedgley asked.

Ms Kedgley said she had bought fizzy drinks, chips, donuts and hot dogs from a school canteen not far from Parliament yesterday.

"Unfortunately this is the reality of the food on sale in school canteens around the country.

"Unless we have Government leadership on the issue, it will continue to be the staple food on sale in school canteens, and children will think it is the norm," said Ms Kedgley.

Link to a briefing paper written explaining the health risks of getting rid of the School Food Guidelines:

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