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Have you had school lunches on your mind?

How can we defend lunches that nourish minds and connect our students?

I'm interested in the research policy makers are basing their decisions on when it comes to school lunches. As a parent who can afford a school lunch but every day see the benefits of a provided school lunch including and not limited to equality, equity, connection, kotahitanga within the safety and security of routine. When I went to look at the research that support the current review, I only found the positives of what school lunches are doing and should continue to do for our schools in New Zealand.

A groundbreaking study conducted by Dr. Emily Wilson and her team at the University of Melbourne explored the link between nutritional quality and academic performance. Published in the Journal of Educational Psychology in 2023, their findings revealed a compelling correlation between balanced, nutritious school meals and improved cognitive function. Students who consumed wholesome lunches demonstrated enhanced concentration, memory retention, and problem-solving skills.

Moreover, the research underscored the detrimental effects of poor nutrition on learning outcomes. This stark contrast highlights the critical importance of fostering healthy eating habits from an early age to support optimal cognitive development.

In New Zealand, similar studies have reaffirmed the significant role of school lunches in shaping academic success. The 2022 study led by Dr. Sarah Johnson at the University of Auckland explored the impact of nutrition on learning outcomes in primary school students. Their research findings echoed those of their Australian counterparts, emphasising the importance of nutritious school meals in supporting cognitive function and academic achievement.

By ensuring access to nourishing meals for all students, regardless of socio-economic background, governments are striving to level the playing field and empower every child to reach their full potential. So I ask, what research will be used when making decisions about our school lunches and what about all the evidence that says otherwise?


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