A Poverty Action Waikato researcher has found at some schools half the pupils are turning up hungry.
Anna Cox says some teachers are bringing in extra food, while other schools have food programmes like Kids Can's Kick Start breakfasts.
She says while such initiatives are great, sustainable community-driven projects really are the best, as sponsors can always pull out.
"We've got some really cool examples in the Waikato of schools who may have Kick Start in there, but they're also building their own ability as a community through vegetable gardens, fruit orchards, things like that."
Ms Cox says communities should be hopeful, not despondent, and know there are things they can do.