Comparative Institutional Analysis

The aim of this analysis is to draw lessons from the national free school lunch programmes in operation elsewhere in order to inform the recommendation of which children should be in receipt of free school lunches if New Zealand were to implement such a programme.

England, Italy and Sweden’s school lunch programmes were purposively sampled from each of Esping-Andersen’s welfare state regimes[1] in order to encompass a breadth of eligibility criteria for free school lunch receipt.  Each programme offers canteen-style lunches which are either purchased or provided free of charge.  However, consumption of school meals is not compulsory and students may choose to bring a packed lunch from home.

The two institutional design features considered are (i) whether free lunch provision is universal or targeted and (ii) the eligibility criteria where provision is targeted.  The key relevant observed practice is the level of free school meal (FSM) take up, while observed outcomes are separated into programme strengths and weaknesses for ease of comparison.

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[1] Gøsta Esping-Andersen, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 1990).