News and Events

Principals give fresh produce initiative top marks amidst soaring food insecurity

Posted on May 29, 2023

Karleigha Rimene Thompson Watt Wairarapa Lakeview School

Student from Lakeview School, Wairarapa

Data released this week reveals the Fruit and Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative, which provides fresh produce to over 120,000 tamariki and school staff each year, continues to be the most popular healthy kai programme in Aotearoa.

An independent evaluation conducted by Quigley and Watts* on behalf of the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust which supports the Te Whatu Ora funded initiative, found that FIS rated as the most effective initiative at supporting a healthy kura/school environment.

Project Manager, Carmel Ireland says the feedback from principals is hugely affirming, but is concerned at the desperate need that still exists in the community.

“Food insecurity has reached even greater heights than before the pandemic. The review shows just how hard it has become for whānau to put nutritious food on the table every day with 93 percent of principals saying FIS supported them to feed hungry tamariki,” she says.


Principals interviewed for the evaluation highlighted that FIS helped them assist whānau with the high cost of living. Not only was some of the stress of providing fresh produce for tamariki removed but kura were also able to assist struggling whānau by sending home excess fruit from time to time.

The 2023 review follows similar evaluations in 2014 and 2018. This year it takes into account new schemes such as the government’s Ka Ora, Ka Ako – Free Healthy Lunches.

“While there is more support now arriving in kura for hungry tamariki, the evaluation demonstrated that FIS still has a vital role to play in the school day,” says Ireland.

The review found that 95 percent of the principals surveyed believed the combination of both free school lunches and FIS were essential. Many stated their fears about what they would do without either initiative.

“Kura appreciate the option to use fruit in a way which suits their community. Whether it’s sharing morning tea, supplementing lunches, available all day or handed out as a snack to eat on the way home – FIS is easily adapted to fit any environment,” says Ireland.

“Principals reiterated that FIS not only feeds their ākonga/students, but also provides a safe environment based on healthy choices and cultural concepts such as manaakitanga, rangatiratanga, kaitiakitanga and connection with the wider community. Tamariki get the nutrition they need without feeling whakamā/embarrassed.”

Nine out of ten principals reported that the integration of fruit into the school day was an effective tool which encouraged healthy eating. Some noted the consumption of highly processed snacks has either greatly reduced or stopped altogether since the start of the initiative.

“Our goal with FIS is not just to feed hungry tamariki. We want to encourage a life-long appreciation of the value of nutritious food and we’re able to do that by providing a real variety of tasty fresh produce, some of which tamariki haven’t had a chance to try before,” says Ireland.

In the survey, 72% of principals agreed or strongly agreed that ‘if Fruit in Schools ended, academic outcomes would suffer’ explaining that the main way fruit provision contributed to academic outcomes was by providing ‘brain food’ that enabled children to concentrate and stay on task.

Alongside the fresh produce, FIS provides kura with curriculum resources produced by 5+ A Day to teach healthy lifestyles. The review found the 5+ A Day resources were the most commonly used in comparison with the Te Kete Ipurangi New Zealand Curriculum (TKI) resources produced by the Ministry of Education.

“Supporting learning is a vital component of FIS. We’re pleased they have been rated the most effective with 60 percent of principals saying they were a great support.

External Evaluation of Fruit in Schools*

93% of principals said FIS is a great support for feeding hungry children with healthy food.

92% of principals said FIS supported their school/kura greatly to promote a healthy food environment.

91 percent of principals agreed the overall health of tamariki would decline if FIS ended.

9 out of 10 principals said FIS is a great support to promoting healthy eating.

95% of principals said the quality of the food from FIS was good or great.

97% of principals rated FIS as good/great.

95% of principals said both FIS and Ka Ora, Ka Ako are necessary.

84% used 5+ A Day resources provided to support FIS.

The majority of key interviewees agreed that Fruit in Schools was successful because:

it is meeting a genuine need and making a real difference

it is very well managed, and easy for schools/kura to participate

the fruit and vegetables provided are varied and of high quality

it has been consistent and reliable over many years

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Fresh produce initiative ensures tamariki a healthy start to school year

Posted on February 08, 2023

Fruit In Schools 5 A Day

Next week the Fruit in Schools (FIS) initiative begins another year of providing an essential service to our youngest New Zealanders. Over 110,000 tamariki in 566 schools and kura across Aotearoa will receive a healthy snack of fresh fruit or vegetables each school day.

The successful scheme has been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for performing a pivotal role in supporting the health and wellbeing of our tamariki for over seventeen years.


Te Whatu Ora fund the FIS initiative, managed by United Fresh and supported by the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust.Chair of the Trust, David Smith, says that FIS will provide critical nutrition for tamariki as inflation hits many whānau in the pocket.

"It's no secret that families throughout Aotearoa are doing it tough this year with cost-of-living challenges and the recent floods. FIS is a great way to ensure the healthy kai grown on orchards and farms around the country gets to where it's most needed," he says.

"We produce some of the highest quality fresh produce in the world, and the fresh fruit and vegetables that tamariki receive through FIS provide vital dietary nutrients for growing bodies and minds," says Smith.

Nelson's Victory Primary is just one of the schools enrolled in the FIS initiative. School representative, Ashleigh Della Bosca, says the fresh produce deliveries are very effective for tamariki.

"We are hugely grateful for the Fruit in Schools. Our school has been hit hard by COVID, and it is a huge relief to provide fruit to our students, which we know is an excellent source of essential vitamins and helps build their immune systems. We love being able to promote fruit as a healthy snack," she says.

"Having a variety of fruit to chop up and eat has helped teach fractions this term - a practical component. Also, as we are a free lunch school, most children no longer bring morning tea and instead eat fruit at this time, which minimises the amount of junk food they eat. Healthy, happy children will always positively affect our students' learning and attitude in the classroom," says Della Bosca.

5+ A Day Trustee, Dr Carolyn Lister, says fresh seasonal produce is delivered twice a week to schools or kura enrolled in FIS so that tamariki and kaiako (staff) can eat it every day, and have the opportunity to try more than two dozen fruit and vegetable varieties during the school year.

"Around 80 percent of FIS schools also participate in the Ministry of Education's Ka Ora, Ka Ako – Healthy School Lunches. Feedback from schools shows these initiatives work well together. For example, many schools have provided feedback that tamariki are more engaged with their learning as the nourishment they receive from FIS at morning tea and Ka Ora, Ka Ako at lunchtime provides the energy they need throughout the school day," she says.

"FIS is about so much more than a piece of fresh produce. Nine out of ten principals enrolled in the initiative said FIS led to a sense of equality between students regardless of their family circumstances, and 83 percent of principals said their children's overall health would decline if FIS ended," she says.

"We also know that the role-modelling of eating a variety of healthy kai together at school has much wider benefits for tamariki and their whānau and influences long-term changes. Our research found that 70 percent of parents said that their child liked eating fruit more because of FIS, and 37 percent said they like eating vegetables more," notes Dr Lister.

Initially developed in 2004, FIS deliveries are organised at no cost to schools or local communities. In addition, the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust provides free curriculum-linked resources in English and Te Reo to help promote healthy eating and teach students how to grow their own produce.

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Worried About The Cost-of-Living? Take Action With The Zero Food Waste Challenge

Posted on August 25, 2022

Zfwc Social 1 Carousel 1

This September, the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust will join forces with Aotearoa’s first ever Zero Food Waste Challenge to promote a rethink of how we manage our food, how we view food waste and how a few small changes can make a big difference to our household budgets.

Veronica Shale, Founder of Zero Food Waste New Zealand, says food waste is a problem and an opportunity for nearly every household in the country.

“It’s no secret that Kiwis waste too much food. Recent studies show the average Kiwi household throws away at least $1500 worth of groceries every year – that’s a huge amount of money to lose in the bin. We’re encouraging every New Zealander to save money and help save the planet with a week of conversation and action to change those habits for good. 


“Food that is left to rot buried in landfills accounts for 10 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions globally. In fact, if food waste was a country, it would be the 3rd biggest emitter of carbon emissions behind the US and China! Collectively our habits are not only damaging our precious environment, but they’re also costing us a heap of money,” she says.

The Challenge is a week-long event encouraging households and companies to have a go at putting as little as possible of their weekly food shop in the bin. It’s free to sign up, registrations open on August 24th at and the event takes place from September 19th to 25th with participants set to receive daily online content packed with tips, tricks, inspiration and advice along with major prizes and product offers and the opportunity to share your journey to a Zero Food Waste lifestyle.

5+ A Day Project Manager, Carmel Ireland says the Zero Food Waste Challenge initiative is aligned to the Trust’s commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

“Nearly one third of the food that we throw out is vegetables or fruit. Selecting, storing and carefully using your fresh produce means you can maximise both the nutritional content and the value of your weekly fruit and vegetable shop,” she says.

“The Challenge is a great chance for us to show you how to make the most of your produce from skin to stem with some delicious recipes and tips. Together we can all do our bit to reduce waste and contribute to a healthier planet,” says Ireland.

Countdown, supporter of the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust, is also backing the inaugural 2022 Challenge, which Shale hopes will become an enduring platform to promote awareness and action around tackling food waste as well as highlighting the important role that local food rescue charities across Aotearoa play in feeding the 1 in 5 New Zealanders who experience food insecurity.

“New Zealand’s goal is to halve food waste by 2030, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. That’s going to take a behaviour shift from each and every one of us, and we want this change to happen in an atmosphere that’s positive, generous and community driven,” says Shale.

In addition to supporting the health of the planet and easing the weekly budget, Shale says the Challenge offers participants a boost to their own wellbeing.

“Joining this movement offers a renewed sense of wellbeing for whānau who are fatigued and isolated from the community. Taking action, big or small, offers a sense of achievement, belonging and along with that, improved mental health,” says Shale.


Food Waste Fast Facts*

· A third of all food produced goes uneaten.
· Food in landfills creates 10 percent of the methane emissions warming the planet.
· The average Kiwi family throws out about $1520 of food per year
· Nationally, Kiwi homes waste enough food to feed Hamilton for a year.
· Eco-anxiety is a real issue amongst our tamariki.
· 1 in 5 New Zealanders face food insecurity.

United Nations Environment Programme, Food Index Report 2021
Love Food Hate Waste Scotland 2021
Kore Haikai - Zero Hunger Collective Aotearoa, NZ 2021
Rabobank/KiwiHarvest Food Waste Survey April 2022


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‘Virtual’ Adventure kick starts healthy habits for Kiwi kids

Posted on August 24, 2022


Registrations are filling up quickly for the Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure. To register visit:

The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust is again supporting this online programme that takes tamariki on a virtual global adventure while encouraging healthy eating and exercise behaviours.

Run in Term 4, this free event features ASICS Ambassadors and Kiwi sporting greats, Ardie Savea, Kane Williamson, Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Samantha Charlton in avatar form.

Prizes and giveaways are up for grabs throughout the five-week adventure, including a fun Zespri Community Day for a hardworking school, ASICS’s shoes for a few classes of deserving students and other goodies too.


Founder of the Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure, Kim Harvey, is delighted to kick off this year’s adventure, and to again empower children to make healthy choices.

Zespri Director of External Relations Michael Fox says Zespri is proud to support the Young and Healthy Trust and help 20,000 young New Zealanders participate in the adventure.

“The Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure brings positive benefits to the lives of thousands of New Zealanders and their families, and it inspires, motivates and educates kiwi kids and their whānau to develop healthy habits for a lifetime of physical and mental health.”

Registrations are now open and primary school teachers are encouraged to sign up to secure some of the free places available. Register by visiting

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5+ A Day and Harold The Giraffe Unite To Inspire Tamariki To Love Fruit and Vegetables

Posted on February 14, 2022

Harold Two Raw Sisters 2022

The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust are teaming up with the Life Education Trust to inspire, motivate and educate tamariki and mātua (parents) about the benefits of eating at least five servings of vegetables and two of fruit every day.

A national tour of schools and communities beginning next month will bring the entertaining combination of both Harold the Giraffe and Canterbury siblings, Two Raw Sisters, to classrooms all around Aotearoa.

The partnership offers the 5+ A Day team an important opportunity to engage with tamariki about their nutritional needs, sources of kai and basic food preparation skills. 

“We want to make sustainable change, increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables by sparking interest with hands-on learning in schools,” says Carmel Ireland, Project Manager at the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust. 


 “It’s important that we are capturing the attention of parents too, sharing useful skills to help whānau improve their nutrition,’ she says.

The Life Education Trust brings a wealth of experience to the partnership, transporting their mobile classrooms and Harold himself to schools all around the motu since 1988. The Trust’s Chief Executive, John O’Connell says the programme comes at a critical time for many families.

“One in five children in Aotearoa live with food insecurity. While the path to food security is a complex one, teaching healthy eating habits from a young age is proven to be an important part of the solution,” he says.

With 45 teachers working in 1,400 schools, the Life Education Trust is New Zealand’s largest health education provider, supporting the health and wellbeing of tamariki throughout Aotearoa.

“Meeting with both tamariki and parents in their communities is a great way of providing information in an accessible, interactive format that’s both engaging and motivates long-term positive change. We’re really looking forward to sharing the youthful and engaging approach of the Two Raw Sisters,” says O’Connell.

The Flanagan sisters, whose mission to share the benefits of plant-based nutrition has seen them publish three best-selling cookbooks, a successful app and encourage their thousands of social media followers to experiment with tasty tips and recipes, are excited to start their busy schedule of school visits.

“We want to change the narrative that meal-planning starts with meat. By providing tasty, interesting, and easy recipes and ideas to make vegetables and fruit the star of the show with protein the supporting act,”.

“And, most importantly, we want to have fun teaching tamariki how to maintain a healthy mind and body through the goodness of freshly grown plant-based dishes.” says Margo Flanagan.

For more information, see the Two Raw Sisters and A Giraffe website: www.tworawsistersandagiraffe.o...

For more tips and recipes to make the most of seasonal produce, head to the 5+ A Day website: and follow the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust on social media: @5adaynz

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5+ A Day Planting Futures for Tamariki with Oke Partnership Deal

Posted on January 31, 2022

5 A Day And Oke Release Image

The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust is proud to sponsor Oke, a local charity providing Kiwi kids from impoverished communities the opportunity to experience the benefits of growing their own fruit and vegetable garden.

Established in 2015, Oke has built gardens at 14 primary schools, gifting more than 10,000 tamariki across South Auckland from Mangere to Drury, with a school garden to grow and learn in.

With the recent Poverty Monitor report indicating that one in five of our tamariki live with food insecurity, the need for initiatives that support the health and wellbeing of young New Zealanders has never been greater. 5+ A Day Chair David Smith says the Oke ‘Growing a Future’ initiative is critical to tamariki in deprived communities. 


“The alignment between the two charities is clear. We’re both striving for affordable, sustainable solutions to address the problems facing our younger generation,” says Smith.

Oke Founder, Paul Dickson says the partnership with 5+ A Day ensures the sustainability of programme.

“With grant funds in short supply since COVID-19 and growing food insecurity in the communities we work with, the importance of a partnership like this can’t be understated. We’re really looking forward to working together to improve the health and wellbeing of Aotearoa’s most vulnerable tamariki.

“With support from partners such as 5+ A Day, we have the funds to both build school gardens and know that the ongoing operation of the charity is secure,” says Dickson.

In the beginning Dickson saw the gardens as primarily a tool to teach children the origins of their food.

“It quickly changed from being about growing food to being an outdoor classroom, a place for teachers to take their tamariki to learn about science or maths or any other area of the curriculum.

“Kids with learning difficulties or short attention spans learn much better in a hands-on, natural environment. Unfortunately, most of the schools in these urban areas are more of a concrete jungle, and our gardens have provided a much-needed outdoor education space for teaching and learning,” says Dickson.

While schools are often sent seeds or have garden beds constructed, Oke goes a step further in establishing a sustainable, achievable garden project in partnership with the school which is built through a community working bee. The charity provides schools with raised beds, a greenhouse, composting solutions, kids’ tools, irrigation and other essential resources; along with the education required to maintain them.

“These kids are missing a long-term connection to the outdoors. We approach schools that are looking for a forward-thinking resource which will serve their community for many years to come and we partner with organisations such as 5+ A Day to ensure we can fund a viable project,” says Dickson.

Each year Oke builds three to five gardens, but this year the aim is for six.

Connecting tamariki to the outdoors is a vital part of their learning and development. Nutrition research conducted overseas indicates that children who learn to grow and cook their own food consume, on average, an extra half serving of vegetables each day and that’s a statistic the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust wants to see replicated here in Aotearoa.*

The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust already support the successful Fruit and Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative that will provide over 26 million serves of fresh produce to decile one and two schools this year alone.

“The gardens built by Oke provide students and teachers with a vital, practical tool that we hope will make them lifelong, passionate gardeners with a deep understanding of the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables,” says Smith.

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