KidsCan, a charity dedicated to supporting children, asserts that providing nutritious meals for $2 is indeed feasible, as it has been doing so for close to 6000 children daily. This affirmation follows the government’s decision to reduce the lunch budget from $8 to $3. As part of the Ka Ora, Ka Ako program, savings of $107 million annually are anticipated, with $4 million earmarked for offering free morning tea and lunches to preschoolers.

Originally, Labour had allocated $323 million for the school year, but the Ministry of Education projected that the actual expenditure would reach $342 million due to factors like food inflation and population growth. However, the revised program under the coalition government is anticipated to cost $234.8 million for the 2025 school year.

Associate Education Minister David Seymour expressed surprise at KidsCan’s ability to provide nutritious meals at such low prices, citing the efficiency of large catering companies. Julie Chapman, the chief executive and co-founder of KidsCan, explained that the charity supplies early childhood centers with ingredients weekly, enabling the preparation of meals like lasagna, chicken stir-fry, and mac and cheese, all for $2 or less per serving. Similarly, in schools, heat-and-eat meals such as butter chicken with brown rice and spaghetti Bolognese are provided at an average cost of $2, ensuring good nutritional content.

Chapman clarified that KidsCan, as a charity, does not aim to generate profits like commercial providers. Despite advising the government on the lunch program, they did not suggest the $2 figure but shared their extensive experience of 18 years. She emphasized the urgent need for such initiatives in early childhood centers, highlighting that while they currently provide lunches to around 5800 children daily, there are over 5000 more on the waiting list that they are unable to reach presently.