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John MacDonald: A sandwich for lunch is ok, if there's dinner too

John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 May 2024, 1:14pm
Photo / Getty
Photo / Getty

John MacDonald: A sandwich for lunch is ok, if there's dinner too

John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 May 2024, 1:14pm

David Seymour is a muppet. I bet that’s what the Prime Minister was thinking yesterday when reporters were asking him if he agreed with Seymour’s view that sushi is “woke”. 

The ACT leader and the Associate Education Minister made the claim about sushi after he’d announced that the Government is revamping the school lunches programme by getting back to the basics, like sandwiches and fruit, and saving about $100 million in the process. 

So out with the butter chicken and the hot meals, and in with the sandwiches and a piece of fruit, and I think the Government is making a big mistake. And I’ll tell you why. 

I think it’s making a big mistake because I’m listening to what the people who really know a thing or two about this are saying. The people at the coalface. The principals and the teachers.  

I saw one principal on the news last night saying it might have been useful if David Seymour had spoken to them first about what was and wasn’t working before making these changes. 

Another —Lianne Webb, Principal of Aorere College in Papatoetoe— says, for some students the lunch is their only meal of the day. 

Which kind of stops me in my tracks because I’m as old school and I tend to think that if I grew up eating luncheon roll sandwiches for lunch when I was at school, why can’t other kids? 

But then, on the other hand, if these lunches are the only meals some kids are getting then a sandwich and an apple at lunchtime isn’t going to cut it, is it?  

And I think what this all comes down to, is whether it is the job of the Government to feed kids full-stop, or just provide them with something to eat at lunchtime when they’re at school - or pre-school as well. Because that’s another change the Government is making. They’re also including some early childhood centres in the programme. 

So, is it a school lunch programme? Or is it a ‘make sure these kids at least get something to eat’ programme? And, in my mind, even though I’m old school and even though a hot meal might seem over the top to most of us, I think we have to listen to what the schools are saying and accept that this is more than just feeding kids at lunchtime.     

As for the woke sushi thing, that all started with a social media post by the ACT Party which said the Government will be doing more with less money to feed kids fruit and sandwiches, not "woke food like quinoa and sushi.”  

And Seymour repeated it when he was talking to journalists at Parliament. 

And, of course, what happened next was they all chased down the Prime Minister to see if he agreed with Seymour that sushi is woke. 

Christopher Luxon tried to fob them off, but it was obvious that he thought Seymour had been a muppet. Eventually, though, he gave in and told the reporters that he doesn’t think sushi and quinoa are woke.  

But what David Seymour is missing, when he says that the school lunch programme will be delivering the type of lunch that 75% of kids get from home, is that they’re the ones who go home after school and do have an after-school snack and do have an evening meal. 

The other kids don't, necessarily. And I think that’s it’s appalling the Government is turning its back on these kids - just to save a lousy $107 million. 

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