Govt commits $9.5 million to feed hungry children

ONE News 28 May 2013
The Government has pledged $9.5 million over the next five years to help feed children at school. The details of the anticipated scheme have just been revealed at Parliament. It will be an expansion of the KickStart breakfast programme run by Fonterra and Sanitarium, which currently provides free breakfast of Weetbix and milk to children at 570 decile 1 – 4 schools, two days a week. The first phase of the new programme will see the current offering expanded to five days a week and the scheme will then be offered to all schools that need it, Prime Minister John Key said. “I’d like to make one thing clear – the Government believes parents have the primary responsibility for providing their kids with the basics, including a decent breakfast and a pair of shoes,” he said. “But the fact remains that some children are going to school hungry and therefore not in good shape to learn.”

…However, the principal of Hora Hora School in Whangarei, Pat Newman, told TV ONE’s Breakfast the food will not help the underlying reasons for children going hungry. “I’m wondering whether this is a stop gap measure,” he said. “I have questions around how did we get to this stage in New Zealand where we’re talking about having to feed children because they are hungry. The root of this problem is when people get power bills or things like that which are higher than expected and they need to choose, food, or pay the bills.” Newman said it is a problem which does not just affect parents at low decile schools but there is a “new poor” developing in middle class New Zealand. He said a targeted approach to offer parents more support at home would be a better way to ensure children were fed. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett admitted the scheme won’t solve underlying issues, but said she was proud of the measures the Government had taken.