A taxpayer-funded Fruit in Schools programme has had a dramatic side-effect in banishing school sores among children in some Whangarei schools.
A new report - Empty Food Baskets - commissioned by a Child Poverty Action Group found a third of the pupils in low-decile schools need food from school to stave off the hunger pangs.
But Sherry Carne, one of the report authors, says she is surprised to hear principals and health workers mention the impact that one piece of fruit per day, per child, had on school sores.
The highly-contagious sores, also known as impetigo, are caused by a bacterial infection, and leave scars.
Ms Carne said schools reported the sores had largely disappeared with the introduction of the Fruit in Schools programme - at least during term-time.
But it was recurring in the holidays when children went without fruit at home.
Sherry Crane says some children did not initially recognise the fruit they were given - and some schools have built learning units around the names of fruit , and their health benefits.
The report has called for the Government to retain the Fruit in School Programme, and provide free good-quality breakfasts at all decile one and two schools.