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New Zealand free fruit for schools programme 'excellent'

Staff writer |
In Marlborough, New Zealand, a programme aimed at delivering free fruit to schools began after the 2002 National Children's Nutrition Survey revealed only two out of five children received the recommended daily servings of fruit.

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A variety of fruits were served to the Marlborough region in 2015 including watermelons, apples, nectarines, peaches and feijoas.

An external survey of the schools reported improved dental outcomes, a reduction in general sores, an increase in overall healthy eating behaviours and an increase in student concentration.

The Ministry of Health initiative is aimed at low decile schools, and was expanded last December to include schools whose decile ratings had moved up from decile one or two. An extra 13,000 pupils were covered by the programme. However, presently it is only reaching one Marlborough primary school, the Mayfield school, despite changes to the Fruit in Schools programme.

Principal of Mayfield, David Nott, who applauds the programme as excellent, said it was aimed at helping schools meet the government's recommendation of every pupil getting at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Health minister Jonathan Coleman said last year the cost of the scheme would rise to $7.8 million, providing 33 different types of fruit and vegetables throughout the year.

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