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Appendix 1: Examples of successful school programmes

The Ministry of Education has provided detailed and inspiring case studies of 12 primary and secondary schools that are running successful food and nutrition programmes. Each example gives details on:

  • the school ethos and organisation
  • curriculum programmes
  • co-curricular health promotion opportunities
  • the school and community environment and partnerships.

Outcomes of successful school food programmes

These schools have taken a whole-school approach to their food programme and reaped many positive outcomes for students and the school, including:

  • having fitter, more attentive pupils
  • developing more active student councils
  • obtaining Green-Gold Enviro status and Gold Healthy Heart Awards
  • developing community gardens in school grounds
  • increasing multi-cultural awareness and understanding through introducing different foods
  • increasing contact with local health organisations and support networks.

The table below lists the 12 schools with very brief descriptions of some notable initiatives they have undertaken.

Further, more detailed, examples provided by the Working Group follow after.

Name of School

Notable initiatives

Breens Intermediate School

Christchurch, Decile 6

Students keep healthy eating journals and are given reward credits to bid for prizes or activities in an end-of-term auction. Students are encouraged to eat bread or fruit during the 10am break, which follows a 20-minute physical activity session.

De la Salle College

Auckland, Decile 1

Year 13 health promotion research project – students give recommendations to teachers and the principal on improving some aspect of the school environment or teaching. Fizzy drinks are banned from school.

Golden Bay High School

Nelson, Decile 6

A Canteen Committee designs and delivers healthy and popular food. It is jointly run by the principal, a board member, a student trustee, the chair of the Home and School Committee and a canteen manager.

Grovetown Primary School

Blenheim, Decile 6

A Healthy School Committee is run by students and staff. Students have $5 Friday lunches based on 5+ADay.

Kaingaroa Forest School

Rotorua, Decile 1

The school is leading health promotion in the community – talking with shop owners to stock healthier food, and hosting monthly health information evenings for whānau.

Miller Avenue School

Paeroa, Decile 1

The school hosts an annual community Big Breakfast; students grow potatoes over summer; and the principal has written food guidelines for staff to observe the diets of the students and promote healthy eating in the classroom.

Reporoa College

Rotorua, Decile 6

A new school canteen is open for breakfast (50c per item) and lunch (5$ per hot meal).

Runanga School

Greymouth, Decile 3

Runanga Rascals Café has $2 meals and is open to the wider community. The café buys local ingredients and the school garden was funded through DHB funding and Mitre 10 grants. The café was Winner of the Development Westcoast Young Entrepreneur award.

St James School

Christchurch, Decile 1

School garden, led by a class of Year 3/4 students, ran interviews and survey questionnaires for the design and use of the garden. Students and teachers have a fruit break at 10:30 each morning and lunch eating is supervised in the classroom for 10 minutes before children go outside to play.

Tawhiti School

Hawera, Decile 5

The school has a 10am Brainfood Break when students eat fresh vegetables and fruit to ‘stimulate their brains’ and help with their learning. Tawhiti is a "water only" school.

Te Matauranga Primary School

Auckland, Decile 1

A school garden in the internal courtyard area has made growing food fun and educational for the students. Funding was made available to build the planters and buy soil, seeds/seedlings, and tools. One key person oversees the garden, gardening activities teach students about growing, cooking, and nutrition.

Wanganui Girls College

Wanganui, Decile 4

Students in the food technology class (Years 11, 12, and 13) were involved in all aspects of designing the new menu for the canteen. They conducted a school-wide survey about students’ food preferences, looked at the costs involved in making and sustaining the menu, then actually made and prepared the food and sold it to their fellow students.

Rhode Street School Food Programme

The Rhode Street School food programme consists of three main components: food security, sustainability, and community engagement.


Breakfast is supplied every school day to pupils between 8.00 am and 8.30 am. Breakfast is supported by the KickStart Breakfast Programme, and is set up by the school’s Sustainable Kitchen Manager with assistance from the Student Council. It is monitored by the Manager and all teaching staff. Breakfast is available to all students whether or not they have already had it at home. It is served in the school’s Kai Time Café where children can sit at purpose-built dining tables and socialise with each other and the staff.

The commercial kitchen supplies daily hot meals for sale at $5.00 per lunch. Students are rostered to harvest fresh vegetables and fruit for use in menus designed by the students on a seasonal basis. The costs of this programme are more than met by the sales and supplies from the school vegetable gardens and orchards.

Sponsored lunches are also available for students who have no lunch or means to purchase one and are available from the school office (which records usage for evaluation and review purposes). These lunches are made possible by KidsCan and a local Church group.

In the third term of 2013 Rhode Street School introduced Fonterra Milk for Schools where all students are given a 200ml container of chilled milk in class before morning tea time.

Food sustainability

Rhode Street School has a long-term focus on food sustainability. The school’s charter and strategic plan include a food in schools programme. Job descriptions for staff reflect health and ecological sustainability in line with the Health Promoting Schools and enviro-schools kaupapa.

There are 18 vegetable gardens and two organic orchards with over 50 fruit trees. There is a kitchen garden with chickens and a community garden open to all whānau, as well as a hydroponics tunnel house to grow out-of-season salad lines, watercress, and pūhā.

A fully functional, registered, stand-alone, commercial kitchen with a full-time chef who works with students and provides cooking and gardening classes for whānau members.

Community engagement and school life

The school has run Kai Festivals annually for 7 years. Classes are expected to have their garden planted in time for the produce to be ready to use on stalls at the festival (held toward the end of March). Before planting in term four, classes discuss what they will be selling at the Kai Festival (the following year) and plan on producing at least 300 servings. They work out recipes, a timetable for planting, marketing and sales plans, and budgets.

The remainder of the year it is up to the class to decide what they wish to grow, for example, vegetables, a winter green crop (for example, lupins), herbs, or flowers. They may decide to have a "Master Chef"-like competition using the kai they are growing, or they may want to grow vegetables to make a salad or soup for the class, or contribute to the Koha Table every Friday for whānau to take kai home.

Community members are involved in planning, planting, and cooking throughout the year in individual classes. They also support groups within the school such as the Student Council or Green Team. On average, 3000 people attend each Kai Festival from the wider community and make a significant contribution to the school’s fundraising efforts. ‘Student voice’ ensures that the children have ownership of the whole process and celebrate their authentic learning by deciding how to utilise their net profits.

It is expected that a local Māori Trust, Rauawawa, will be working in partnership with the school to introduce the Aroha Ngā Mokopuna Project. Kaumātua and kuia will visit the school every week to share their healthy living messages by growing and cooking traditional Māori kai with students.

Video links

Check out a great video that looks at what Rhode Street School is doing.

Changing the school culture – a case study of Yendarra School

Yendarra, a decile 1a school (the lowest decile) in Otara (South Auckland), has shown that it is possible to use the influence that schools have in the community to effect positive change. Yendarra used a whole-school approach to promote healthy lifestyles for the students and their whānau. Their journey is inspiring and something that all schools can learn from.

The first step that the school took was to ban fizzy drinks, which staff noticed were making kids hyperactive and disruptive in class. The Principal, Susan Dunlop, remembers simply suggesting at an end of year board meeting that they make Yendarra a "water-only school":


It just happened. Overnight, water was the preferred drink. To start it off we gave all children a free water bottle. We also received funding to put in new drinking fountains… The behaviour problems disappeared overnight. It was amazing… more peaceful, kids were feeling happier, [and] teachers were feeling happier.


Next, the school began to "celebrate" good food that kids brought to school for lunch. This, along with educating the parents too, created a culture where it was ‘cool’ to bring healthier food for lunch – as opposed to coke, pies and chippies. At parent teacher evenings, which are very well attended by whānau, the school took the opportunity to give food budgeting advice – such as buying bread and spreads for lunch, buying seasonal food when it’s cheap, knowing how many you can feed with a loaf of bread and a box of Weetbix, and how money is quickly spent on takeaways.

The school brought in gradual changes when opportunities arose. When there was a government move to ban pies and promote healthy eating in schools, Yendarra saw this as the right time to change the tuck shop from a commercial business within the school selling sugary drinks and pies, to a "Kai Shop" selling fresh sandwiches and rolls sourced from a local bakery. Basically it is run as a service for parents – a healthy lunch for $2 for those who, for whatever reasons, are unable to make lunch for their children.

Leading from the top was also a key aspect of changing the school eating culture. Some staff were eating unhealthy takeaways for lunch and were not sending good messages, so this had to change. There is now a bigger focus on healthy kai for everyone at Yendarra – not just for the children.

The school teaches eating expectations to the children – “We take what [portions] we can eat, we consider other people, we don’t take a plate full of food just because it is there”. Children are also taught basic food preparation such as making porridge, and ways to make healthy food more interesting. They are taught that it’s OK to have treat food now and again; it’s just about how much you have (frequency and portions).

Masterchef style programme is run, where the kids make hamburgers with lettuce, onions, eggs, and tomatoes – so they learn that people can make their own hamburgers at home, not just at McDonald’s.

The entire school community – staff, children, and whānau – has experienced a shift in culture and expectations, and have all moved towards healthy food as a result of this programme.