Poverty hits school children

The Press 04 April 2008

More Christchurch children are arriving at school poorly clothed and hungry as parents struggle to cope with rising living costs. The children come from Christchurch’s poorer suburbs, but the poverty also reaches around the South Island and to Stewart Island. Nationwide, almost 20,000 children a week need feeding during their school day because of empty cupboards at home. KidsCan, a charity which provides raincoats, food and shoes to low-decile schools, has opened its first South Island office to cope with rising demand. General manager Julie Helson said rising interest rates, petrol prices and food costs were all playing a role.

..KidsCan, the charity of choice for Dancing With The Stars contestant Miriama Smith, has seen the number of schools using its programmes grow from 40 to 85 in three years, with a further 80 on a waiting list. In Christchurch, nine schools are signed up and nine are waiting for help. Two or three schools throughout the South Island approach the charity each week.