KIWI parents and school principals overwhelmingly back the Fruit & Vegetables in Schools initiative and new research shows there’s a strong desire for the Government-funded scheme to be expanded.

More than 100,000 children from low decile primary and intermediate schools receive fresh seasonal produce to eat every day in class – more than 24 million servings are handed out every year at 550 different schools nationwide, including schools in Opotiki and on the Coast.

They include Ashbrook School, Opotiki Primary School, St Joseph’s Catholic School, Omarumutu School, Kutarere School, Te Kura o Torere, Te Kura Kaupapa o Waioweka, Te Kura Kaupapa o Whangaparaoa and Waimana School.

The initiative aims to improve both health and education outcomes for kiwi kids, as healthy food helps tamariki to concentrate and learn.

The programme is funded by the Ministry of Health, run by United Fresh and supported by

The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust.

Trust chairman David Smith said new Nielsen research conducted in May showed most parents (88 percent) agreed the initiative should continue beyond 2019.

“We’re heartened to see there’s very strong support for Fruit & Vegetables in Schools,” he said. “Eighty percent of parents would like to see the initiative extended to all decile three primary and intermediate schools.”

A separate survey conducted by Quigley and Watts showed school principals were also in favour of the initiative, with 83 percent believing the overall health of their children would decline if it came to an end. Three-quarters of parents surveyed said their children now ate more fruit at home because it was handed out at school.

james.sandbrook@opotikinews.co.nz