Ka Ora, Ka Ako policy pathways

The Ka Ora Ka Ako programme was rolled out in a short timeframe, and there was little time to consider the multiple ripple effects for the child, whānau, school, community, and wider food system. For example, no work was done initially on the engagement of Ka Ora Ka Ako with the curriculum or mātauranga Māori; however, the Ministry of Education began actively considering how to achieve this as the programme evolved. There is evidence from similar universal school food programmes around the world showing the multiple potential impacts such initiatives can have at these different levels of impact, and over time. The first phase of the policy pathways project gathered this international evidence, alongside recent Ka Ora Ka Ako programme research and consultation with key government agencies, to take stock of the programme’s progress to date and what else it could plausibly achieve over time. This interim report was shared with the Ministry of Education in November 2022 to inform its Budget bid for ongoing funding in the May 2023 Budget.

Findings from this first phase showed that Ka Ora Ka Ako was like a big stone thrown into the food system pond – it was already causing ripples, but these could be amplified through wider policy action to get even greater impact. While the Ministry’s website named six areas of potential impact, officials realised that there were several further areas of flow-on effects that could be enhanced with policies. Examples included child nutritional health, whānau food security, school engagement, environmental sustainability, food systems resilience, government food procurement, employment, and business. The second phase of the policy pathways project worked with stakeholders to identify how, through further investment, Ka Ora Ka Ako could achieve these greater societal and food system benefits. However, the 2024 budget resulted in significant funding cuts to the programme, reducing its scope and impact. This highlighted the importance of continued advocacy and support for the programme to realise its full potential.