Pupils miss out on Fruit in Schools programme because of decile system
Some South Canterbury pupils did not know what a peach was before the Fruit in Schools programme started.
The Ministry of Health initiative will deliver fresh fruit and vegetables to six primary schools in the region and 543 schools nationwide this year.
Timaru South School principal Mike Hogan said it was very popular with pupils and staff, but many schools were missing out.
A ministry spokeswoman said the programme was for students at decile 1 and 2 primary and intermediate schools, including schools which had changed deciles in 2015.
However, Hogan said the ministry should open up the programme to all schools as a way to combat childhood obesity.
Principals in higher decile schools would certainly like the opportunity to join the programme, he said.
"We are seeing more fruit in kids lunch boxes now."
Some students did not know what peaches and apricots were at his school before the programme started, he said.
"They had only had the traditional apples and oranges."
The school had been involved in the programme since its inception around 2005.
Ministry service commissioning system outcomes group manager Sam Kunowski said there were no current plans to expand the programme.
The successful programme was reviewed regularly for effective delivery of fresh produce to children who might not usually have the opportunity to experience it, Kunowski said.
"It already represents a significant investment by the Ministry of Health, with an annual spend of about $8 million."
South Canterbury Principals' Association president Jane Culhane said she believed every eligible South Canterbury school had joined.
But more would like to be involved, Culhane said.
Timaru South School pupil Cruiz Bool-McDonald, 6, enjoyed munching on a piece of fruit each day at school.
He liked fruit because "it tastes good" and his favourite fruit was apricots and bananas.
Grantlea Downs School, Oceanview Heights School, St Joseph's School in Temuka, both Timaru South School's campuses and Waimate Main School were involved in the programme in 2017.