The government’s expansion of the KickStart breakfast programme run by Fonterra and Sanitarium is better than nothing. Credit where it’s due – which is mostly to those who have highlighted this issue so effectively: the Office of the Children’s Commissioner via special report (and other reports), the Child Poverty Action Group, Mana’s Feed the Kids campaign, the makers of Inside Child Poverty, Campbell Live, Labour, The Greens, and many more.
From The Herald summary:
Schools gets $9.5m breakfast funding boost
The Government will put up $9.5 million over the next five years to allow Fonterra and Sanitarium to expand school breakfast programmes to five days a week for all schools that need it – but the companies will have to fund the rest of the estimated $19 million cost of that expansion themselves.
Prime Minister John Key announced the funding as part of the Government’s response to a report on child poverty by an expert advisory group set up by the Childrens’ Commissioner.
The extra funding will cover half of the expected costs to expand the ‘KickStart’ programme which was set up in 2009 by Sanitarium and Fonterra – the companies will be expected to cover the rest.
That programme currently provides a breakfast of weetbix and milk twice a week to children at about 570 schools – half of all decile 1-4 schools.
The extra funding is expected to help increase the number of schools to receive the programme and ensure it is offered every school day.
Other initiatives include an extra $500,000 a year for the next three years for KidsCan to provide more clothes, and health and hygiene products to disadvantaged children.
Anything is better than nothing and this initiative will make a difference – but the government’s commitment to this program is fairly derisory, especially when compared to some other expenditures (as highlighted by Zet this morning). Last word to a principal:
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.
How did we get to this stage in New Zealand?
Update: from comments – $9.5 Million over 5 years to feed hungry kids – but in 2012 just 4 private schools got $10.9 Million.