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Budget: corporate “charity” not the solution to Feeding the Kids

Written By: - Date published: 9:21 am, May 15th, 2013 - 24 comments
Categories: capitalism, child welfare, hone harawira, jobs, mana, Privatisation, schools, wages - Tags: ,

“Leaks” of the content of Thursday’s budget, indicate that the government has responded to pressure for tackling child poverty and affordable housing.  As in Eddie’s post this morning, ‘Stealth privatistion of housing in the budget‘, it looks like the government is also planning to out-source feeding children in schools to private business.

Last night, John Campbell certainly seemed to have picked up on this move to make businesses central to blunting the edge of child poverty.  On the Thursday’s budget, Campbell says:

We believe they are going to announce initiatives to get more milk and food into schools.

Campbell welcomes this as an urgent need for children living in poverty.  However he also believes that the government is going to make deals with private enterprise to provide this.  This would be an extension of Fonterra’s milk in schools project, with more businesses becoming involved.

However, Campbell is concerned that organisations that are already doing great work on the ground will be marginalised and not get any increase in funding: organisations like KidsCan and the Aranui Community Trust in Christchurch.  Campbell argues that such organisations have expertise on the ground that includes and goes beyond supplying food.  They have the skills and systems necessary for identifying, and responding to, health and other problems related to poverty.  They also approach their work with children in a way that aims to treat them with dignity.

However, provisions for a basic need should not be left largely to charities and/or businesses.  It should be a core provision by the state.  In the development of Hone Harawira’s private member Education (Breakfast and Lunch in Schools) Amendment Bill this is recognised.  A Fact Sheet on the web page for the Bill, known as the ‘Feed the Kids’ Bill, commends charitable organisations for their work, but recognises their limitations:

Key organisations such as Every Child Counts, the Child Poverty Action Group, and the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group – have recommended food programmes in schools as an immediate way to help address child poverty in New Zealand. The Bill also recognises the importance of charities, businesses, and school volunteers currently involved in food in schools programmes and they will be important to the success of this policy, but reliance on charity and volunteers is often uncertain, especially in difficult economic times.

State funded breakfast and lunch programmes will bring certainty and ensure that all children in decile 1 and 2 schools are able to learn at school and be well on an on-going basis.

The Bill aims to make the state central to the programme, in a way that is likely to be lacking from the provisions to be announced in this week’s budget.
How would the Feed the Kids programme work? 

Government would provide funding to ensure all decile 1 and 2 schools are able to provide nutritional breakfasts and lunches to all their students.

The bill gives schools the flexibility to implement practices that work best for them.

Part of the funding would be used to employ somebody to co-ordinate the programme.

This person would work with local businesses, charitable organisations, other schools, community networks, and of course school families themselves, to buy food and prepare meals.

The funding will also cover all food costs although donations of food will still be welcomed.

The government is likely to be trying to provide cover for not supporting Harawira’s Bill.  It is therefore a good move by Harawira to delay the first reading of the Bill until 10 July as announced today:

“It also gives me more time to persuade ACT, United Future, and National MPs that the Bill deserves to go to Select Committee.”

“Government recognises the need for food in schools programmes, and they clearly support the need for a public discussion on how best to run them here in Aotearoa. What I’m asking is simple: that they support the Bill at first reading so select committee can hear from experts and interested members of the public.”

Harawira argues that usually families and communities should be responsible for feeding children, but that the immediate poverty is so widespread and serious, the government needs to step in.  Ultimately, adequate food and other provisions can be ensured by better pay and social security provisions rather than relying on charity or the private sector.  The exorbitant profiteering by some corporates is part of the problem, and, given their current ethos, will never be part of a long term solution.

24 comments on “Budget: corporate “charity” not the solution to Feeding the Kids”

  1. One Anonymous Knucklehead 1

    typo: “child poverty and affordable poverty”?

    The private sector cannot compete with public provision of basic needs since they are required to make a profit. If this is the National Party’s hastily cobbled together in the face of dismal internal polling plan it is a typically ideological approach.

    The first step to tackling child poverty is to attack the root cause: neoliberalism must be rooted out and and crushed wherever it is found. The intrusion of the profit motive into public service must end.

  2. One Anonymous Knucklehead 2

    Before the wingnut whining starts: “It’s too difficult” “It’s too expensive” “nice to have” “but but but Laaaabbbboooouuuurrr”,

    Whatever it takes.

    It’s almost unheard of for a child to show up hungry or homeless. Finland provides three years of maternity leave and subsidized day care to parents, and preschool for all 5-year-olds, where the emphasis is on play and socializing. In addition, the state subsidizes parents, paying them around 150 euros per month for every child until he or she turns 17. Ninety-seven percent of 6-year-olds attend public preschool, where children begin some academics. Schools provide food, medical care, counseling and taxi service if needed. Stu­dent health care is free.

    • ghostrider888 2.1

      great links; “top 10% of grads, Masters in Ed. required; Identifies Bill Gates funding of the “race to the top” status quo in the US; Oh well, heart-warming to reflect on as the closing bell rings.

    • Mike S 2.2

      Further to your post, Finland also has no exams in it’s education system and no competition.It has no private schools, all schools are publicly funded. Children can basically decide what they wish to study. There is no centralized curriculum like NCEA, teachers make up their own curriculum. As mentioned in another post, all teachers require a masters degree. There are no national standards. Finland consistently comes top in the world in terms of education standards and ability of students upon leaving school.

      In my opinion, the biggie in terms of student achievment is competition. We are constantly taught to compete whether at school or in adult life. Proponents say competition is good whether in business, sport or education. They claim that humans are by nature competitive, individualistic and selfish. However this is definitely incorrect. Numerous studies have shown that competition is a hindrance to excellence. It is difficult for many people to accept that competition is detrimental to students learning as from the day we are born we are taught to compete.

  3. mac1 3

    I have seen food in schools in Japan provided to all students for lunch- a nutritious, tasty (I ate two meals- on separate days I hasten to add) and involving the student group and teacher in distribution to the class at lunch time followed by whole group clean-up- good social skills are learned in this.

    What is being foreshadowed for the budget is a first step and should be recognised with some commendation.

    However, low decile schools are not the only schools which have children in poverty and which have children in nutritional debt, by which I mean either hungry or poorly fed. I’m an ex-teacher of health who also got involved in dealing with problematic boys at a state secondary school for boys. Even with good education about wise and adequate nutrition, it still didn’t always happen. Many problem boys I dealt with had poor eating histories- I investigated this as part of dealing with them.

    This school has a decile ranking of six or seven. It takes all boys from the area, from all ranges on the economic scale except for the very well-off some of whom pack their sons off to boarding school. Some of those boys suffered from poor nutrition- little or no breakfast, poor food when supplied or bought from the canteen or local shops.

    I’ve seen the results of poor nutrition in the classroom. One poor, thin, small for his age, boy shivering in warmish weather from lack of energy because his drug-taking solo father did not supply even evening meals regularly. The boy now ‘grown’ into a man now comes before the courts. He had little education, and little prospects even then.

    I wonder also what will happen to those children who habitually are late to school. Will they get some of this free breakfast? Because they are late, they will have missed breakfast at home. I hope that the school breakfast is fed to them during school time anyway to capture those children who are just on time or are late.

    Surely the state can supply food for all kids in all schools as do the Japanese? The proposals for school breakfasts will go some way but will it apply to secondary schools as well? To all decile rankings? It should, to be fair and even-handed.

    If not, then ways must be devised for the state to allow children with poor nutrition to be fed adequately. That would include living wages, cheaper food, child allowances, education, monitoring of at risk children etc etc etc.

    I live in a region where we have the highest food costs in the country combined with the lowest wage economy. We as a community live with these problems daily. Let’s continue to develop this good start as far as we need to. We cannot afford not to.

  4. AsleepWhileWalking 4

    Yet again those in anything higher than the “wealthy” decile three schools are abandoned.

  5. tracey 5

    Like giving Sky more tables and pokies in return for a convention centre aucklanders dont even know they need? That won’t impact children, at all

    • David H 5.1

      And that nice Sky Casino will teach them how to count, 2 people in, with $400.00 = 2 people broke 1 hour later. But forgot to carry the 3 starving kids at home. But that’s ok, that nice Mr Key has organised food for the kiddies. It’s left overs from the, local FF restaurants, and for a treat a loaf of 3 day old bread to take home to last the nigt.

  6. Mary 6

    Hone’s bill focuses on deciles 1 and 2, but Mana’s policy is to eventually move food in schools across the board in order to jettison notions of charity that inevitably come with such an approach. Mana’s intention is to base the policy more in terms of how we run our education system rather than as a welfare-based initiative. It was always, though, in these early stages, a golden opportunity for National to come along and hijack it with its poor law-based belief that private charity should replace state welfare altogether. Yet another mechanism that helps NAct continue its war on the poor, driving further wedges between the haves and have nots, and the only way they can push their agenda is by doing it by stealth in order to avoid the disdain and public outrage that would ordinarily stop such outrageousness in its tracks. Total slime.

    • ghostrider888 6.1

      yes, Nats have been politicking off Labour / Green / Mana signals.

      • Mary 6.1.1

        Labour and the Greens now have to call Key et al on what they’re doing for what it is, and say they’ll extend the food in schools across the board as an as-off-right policy, which includes taking all corporate charity out of the equation.

  7. Populuxe1 7

    I have no time for stupid ideological either/or propositions – tarting state ‘charity’ up as a basic human right is not much better than putting ‘charity’ in the hands of the nobless oblige of rich patrons and the largess corporations. The qualities of Mercy are not strained. The problem must be tackled horizontally with every possible resource; corporate, private, and state working together as a comunity. Children are too important for political pissing matches. The stakes are too high.

    • ghostrider888 7.1

      butter both sides

    • karol 7.2

      No policies are non-political, including yours, Pop. And the government policy looks to include all the agencies you refer to, with all the weaknesses I have mentioned.

      • Populuxe1 7.2.1

        You would first have to prove to me, Karol, that any other party would be giving more money to those agencies on the ground in the first place. Can’t see Labour doing that. Therefore this policy is an improvement, and surprisngly it would seem to go above and beyond anything the last Labour government achieved. Those “weaknesses” you’ve highlighted are almost entirely the result of various interest groups wanting keep a hierarchy of control and a lot of blind idealism when there is clearly a consensus that there is an issue that needs to be dealt with. Any delays caused by political grandstanding are days of nutrition lost to poor children. The responsibility for the wellbeing of children extends well beyond family and community.

        • ghostrider888 7.2.1.1

          what was your academic specialty Pop, if you don’t mind the enquiry.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 7.2.1.2

          Bullshit. Labour is not the government. When they were inequality decreased. What has National done? Attacked workers, done its best to drive wages down, but now here’s some charity.

          Like a mugger selling crutches.

          • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.2.1

            Bullshit. Labour is not the government. When they were inequality decreased.

            And home affordability decreased. And reductions in child poverty slowed down. And shut down schools. And got rid of the special benefit. And introduced work testing for beneficiaries. And…you get the idea.

  8. tracey 8

    If National is going to supply food for decile 1 and 2 children does that mean they think those children are experiencing some kind of negative effect of pvoerty? If yes, how did they measure Poverty and do they still say that poverty is too hard to define (see PBennett’s numerous answers in the house). So are they throwing money at a programme pretending to address a problem they dont believe exists, are they trying to buy votes from decile 1 and 2 school parents and teachers?

  9. tracey 9

    “Government would provide funding to ensure all decile 1 and 2 schools are able to provide nutritional breakfasts and lunches to all their students.

    The bill gives schools the flexibility to implement practices that work best for them.
    Part of the funding would be used to employ somebody to co-ordinate the programme.

    This person would work with local businesses, charitable organisations, other schools, community networks, and of course school families themselves, to buy food and prepare meals.”

    I guess we have to wait ont he details but if the funding is for a person to manage the programme it may be that person has to find the money/suppliers (for free) to provide the food. Remember any donation attracts a 33% rebate. When JK made this change in 2008/2009 he expected charitable donations that benefit society at large to increase. I wonder if they have?

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