National is letting children go to school hungry to try to teach their parents a lesson. Every fool knows the basic requirement for learning is food in the tummy. No decent person would turn their back on a hungry child. But Mike Sabin wants 20 children in his electorate to starve pour encourager les autres. And Paula Bennett has just cut the money that was feeding them.
An NGO up in Kaitaia, with a CYF ‘social workers in schools’ contract, worked out that the heart of their problem was 15-20 kids who were coming to school hungry and without food. It was resulting in them being unable to concentrate on learning, and turning to theft and truancy to sate their hunger. Feed the kids and you take the first step to solving their wider problems. It’s just common sense.
But Bennett didn’t see it that way. The contract with CYF was to only be an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. How dare Te Aupouri Maori Trust Board actually try to tackle the roots of the problem? Her ministry told them to stop feeding the kids with contract funds or lose the contract (ironically, we find out about this as Bennett travels the country in a two-week roadshow about the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children.).
Eric Reid of the board’s social services arm explains:
“We would love to get into the preventive model, but we are not equipped to do it for nothing,”“One of the areas we definitely wanted to address was children coming to school without lunches, so we started providing children in school with lunches.
“It was reducing thefts. It was reducing truancy.”
“These are things that you can address just through school lunches.”
“We got rapped over the knuckles – we were not meant to be doing that, it was not part of our contractual responsibility.”
And these kids’ MP reckons its important that they go hungry, disrupting their own learning and others’. Sabin says:
“if schools provided lunches then mothers and fathers would never have to do it.”
“But they are not doing that anyway,” Mr Reid responded. “You can walk around every pub in Kaitaia and mums and dads are investing in the poker machines.”
Mr Sabin retorted: “We have to investigate that, otherwise we’ll have 50,000 more parents who are not feeding their children.”
What this idiot Sabin doesn’t get (or doesn’t want to acknowledge) is that a few bucks a day for a few kids is making a hell of a difference. And it’s not going to encourage every mother and father to let their kids go hungry, because most children are fortunate enough to have parents who wouldn’t dream of letting them go hungry. Does Sabin know that, already, more than 50,000 schoolkids leave home without having breakfast? Does he care?
And what’s National’s objection to school lunches in principal? Is it just that they would rather the money came to them and the rest of the elite in miniscule tax cuts than went to helping poor kids learn and grow?
Is it any wonder that the gap between rich and poor, and the expensive load of poverty are growing when we are ruled by a government would rather save a few bucks then give kids a chance at life and learning?