Under a majority Government, the Labor party have stated they will introduce government-funded healthy lunches in all government schools across the state over the next 6 years in a $31.8 million initiative intended to improve school attendance, lead to better education outcomes and healthier lives for future generations.
Labour Leader Rebecca White said while the Gutwein Government had made only a token effort in relation to good nutrition and healthier eating habits for Tasmanian children, Labor was dedicated to a wholesale change across all government primary schools to give kids the best possible start in life.
“Too many Tasmanian children are being left behind because of poor nutrition when they should be supported to engage in education and live healthier lives.” Ms White said.
“Approximately 30 per cent of Tasmanian kids aged between 12 and 15 are overweight and nearly 10 per cent of these children are obese but evidence shows that if children aged between 5 and 11 are given the chance to eat healthy lunches, they will learn behaviour that will continue into their teens and beyond.”
“Governments need to be making genuine investment in children’s health and wellbeing to ensure our kids lead happy, healthy and active lives and are able to contribute to their communities.” She said.
Labor’s plan will see the government-funded healthy lunches rolled out over 6 years at a cost of $31.8 million at full implementation starting with 25 schools in the first year and adding remaining schools over the following 5 years.
The fully costed plan includes funding for healthy menus, additional staff, equipment support and kitchen upgrades.
Shadow Education Minister Josh Willie said the staged roll-out over six years would enable schools that were not already equipped to provide lunches to build capacity and become involved through an expression of interest process.
“When kids eat a healthy diet with a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, there are benefits like improved concentration – the government’s own school lunch trial and other jurisdictions delivering lunches demonstrate that.” Mr Willie said.
“Tasmania has some of the best produce in the world and a program such as this provides fantastic teaching and learning opportunities.”
“Labor’s plan is far more equitable – providing lunch on a universal basis minimises any stigma associated with food insecurity. The focus should be on improving health and education outcomes and all Tasmanian children deserve this investment.”