NZ Herald 6 Oct 2012
Food programmes for hungry Kiwi schoolchildren may soon get a boost from the Government to top off an overwhelming public response to recent media appeals.
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, who chairs a Cabinet committee on poverty, has told the Weekend Herald society must accept an obligation to feed hungry children even if their parents lacked “a strong sense of responsibility”.
He said he was “quite open” to considering a national food strategy for low-decile schools as proposed by an expert group appointed by Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills.
“I wouldn’t rule it out. We need to address that directly in the context of the education budget,” he said.
“There’s no doubt that there are kids in homes where there is not a strong sense of responsibility. It’s the obligation of the rest of us to do something about that.”
Mr English said a recent survey found that only 3 to 4 per cent of children were missing out on breakfast.
“There is no doubt that when they do, they are not in great shape to learn. We are willing to grapple with that problem without setting out to undermine the efforts and the sense of responsibility that most parents have for their kids.”