Client: Ministry of Education

The context

The New Zealand healthy school lunches programme is an initiative by the New Zealand Government to reduce food insecurity by providing access to free, nutritious lunches for all learners at participating schools and kura daily. The whole-school programme targets schools and kura with the highest concentrations of learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. The programme is intended to ensure not only that nutritious food is available to learners every day, but that the food (quality, quantity and variety) promotes learners’ consumption. it was further expected that the provision of sufficient quantities of nutritious food will lead to a series of expected outcomes, including improved school attendance as well as improved diet and nutrition for learners, and therefore greater food security.

The evaluation

The evaluation required rigorous data, including generalisable results comparing “paired” schools (those with and without the programme) to assess impact of the programme for accountability purposes.

The evaluation adopted a real-world approach, making use of the rolling enrolments to integrate a stepped-wise design and assess the net effects of the programme on learners. A clustered sample design at the class-level was used to track food availability and consumption, satiety and wellbeing among young people aged 5 to 13 –years-old. Further, propensity score matching was used to determine the net effects of the programme on student attendance.

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