School lunches – Key vs data

Written By: - Date published: 7:11 am, July 6th, 2015 - 29 comments
Categories: act, class war, national, peter dunne, poverty, schools - Tags: , , ,

All the way back in March the Nats (along with ACT and Peter Dunne) voted down the “feed the kids” bill. Better to spend money on a flag change that no one wants, rather than feeding hungry kids, apparently. Part of Key’s argument against the bill was that it wasn’t needed – kids at school without food were “the odd one or two”. Later in Parliament he made a similar argument:

Prime Minister John Key got Education Minister Hekia Parata to cold-call three low-decile schools at random today and find out how many children had come to school without lunch.

He revealed during question time that he had done so, during questions from Greens co-leader Metiria Turei on providing lunches in schools and ahead of votes on two private members’ bills tonight.

“These are the facts,” Mr Key said. “At Te Waiu o Ngati Porou School, Ruatoria, Decile one, how many children came to school without lunch – answer – zero.” At Sylvia Park School, decile two – there one or two kids, and at Manurewa Intermediate, a decile one school with a roll of 711, perhaps 12 had gone to school with no lunch, he said.

To try and make policy decisions based on hurried calls to three schools (selected how?) was always nonsense, especially given the evidence on the prevalence of the problem turned up by Campbell Live’s excellent work on school lunches. Credit to the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, who organised a questionnaire to get some real data on the problem. Here’s a summary reported on Saturday in The Herald (nice work from Kirsty Johnston):

Full tummies another task for teachers?

Schools are digging into their teaching budgets – in some cases relying on donations from principals and teachers – to feed children who turn up hungry. A nationwide survey of lower decile school principals has indicated how many kids don’t have breakfast or lunch, with those in some areas reporting up to 80 per cent of students arriving without food each week.

Among the respondents were 70 decile four and five schools, suggesting child poverty is creeping into middle income families. Most of the 270 schools who responded to the New Zealand Principals’ Federation questionnaire said they fed some of their students, with more than half feeding at least 20 per cent each week. Principals reported using up to $5000 of their operations grants on feeding children each term and many also paid teacher aides to co-ordinate available programmes or help at breakfast and lunchtime.

The survey

• Sent to all Decile 1 to 5 schools, approx 1200 in total; 270 schools replied.

• Eighty-five schools – one third of the total – said up to 20 per cent of their kids came to school without having eaten breakfast, or without lunch, each week. Another 45 schools put this figure at 30 per cent.

• 88 per cent of schools, when asked if they used school resources to feed children, said yes.

• 73 per cent said they used school money to feed kids, 51 said management time and 63 said teacher time.

What principals said

• “Teachers donate meat, bread, other sandwich fillings so students have lunch.”

• “We grow our own food and give the students three hot meals per week with produce from the garden.”

• “We don’t identify individuals, we just provide a lunch for everyone once or twice a week and top up any children as required.”

• “As the principal for the first year of setting up our Breakfast Club I paid for it myself.”

• “Our school has the approach of working with parents to ensure they meet their obligations to provide for their children.”

• “We want children to feel free to get breakfast without feeling any shame from seeing staff.”

• “Much of it is done quietly by teachers in their own rooms, from their own pockets.”

So there are the facts. John Key is wrong, the problem of hungry kids at school is not “the odd one or two”. In many schools it is 20 – 30%, in some cases up to 80%, of the total roll. It’s a shocking level of hunger in schools. The feed the kids bill should never have been voted down, shame on those that did so.

29 comments on “School lunches – Key vs data”

  1. CnrJoe 1

    I imagine most National voters can and do send their kids to school with food or money and look down on those that don’t and/or can’t. Suits the Nats and their supports just fine to pretend there’s no issue.

  2. b waghorn 2

    Some one needs to point out to key that we have a charity advertising on tv for donations to feed and clothe kiwi kids.

  3. Keith 3

    Wow, John Keys “facts” were plain wrong, or in the least, very misleading. Who could have possibly thought he would do that?

    Standard Key National government operating procedure when confronted by uncomfortable situations, say anything, make it up just get the problem off the front page. The media falls for it everytime like unquestioning shop dummy’s, job done!

    • tc 3.1

      The medias job under team Key is to NOT question anything, see how that worked out for John Campbell whose team persistently went where the other muppets dared to tread…chch, pike river, gcsb etc etc

  4. maui 4

    This really pisses me off. Not only are Government policies ruining kids lives from the get go, but they’ve passed the responsibility onto teachers to make sure kids literally can survive. I wonder how many teachers hate this Government for that among other things.

    • tc 4.1

      It’s not as if teachers haven’t got grounds for thinking they’re getting a raw deal under NACT.

      Charter Schools which siphon public money into private pockets
      Increased funding for private with no overall education increase, see above
      national standards / Novo Pay / leaky schools / chch school closures etc

  5. Jenny Kirk 5

    What’s happened to the Fonterra milk-in-schools project ? Wasn’t that meant to go into every school – or can’t Fonterra afford it now ?

    • dukeofurl 5.1

      “One year into the programme and we’d delivered more than 14 million milk packs to over 1450 schools participating nationwide.”- Fonterra

      • maui 5.1.1

        It looks to be only available for primary schools and the schools have to opt into the program. So schools that need it most may still not be part of it and some of the more affluent schools that really don’t need this program will be getting it too.

  6. Flo 6

    The government ( in partnership with Fonterra) provide milk and weetbix to all schools who want it.New fridges were given to all schools to store the milk in. The government also continue to fund ” fruit in schools” which is delivered to all decile 1 and 2 schools who apply.

    • dukeofurl 6.1

      Where does it say the government supplies anything ?

    • McFlock 6.2

      if they were already doing it, why did they vote the bill down?

      • Because the bill required a much bigger commitment than the government already made. The government has some half-measures that are a good start available to ensure kids get breakfast and snacks, but there’s little to ensure they have lunch, and there’s no provision to help out households that can’t get them dinner either. The bill would have mandated a fix to everything but that last problem.

        • McFlock 6.2.1.1

          Exactly.

          If the government were already ensuring that no kids were hungry at school, they would have rubberstamped the bill and laughed at Hone for being late to the party.

          But once again tories are pretending that token measures have solved a problem they denied existing in the first place.

  7. If we’re demanding real data, what controls were applied to this data-gathering to identify the proportion of kids who would be getting breakfast/lunch provided by their parents if the school wasn’t providing it?

  8. NZJester 8

    You do have to wonder if National rang more schools than they claimed and just cherry picked the best of the bunch for their statistics as normal.
    Or maybe they had a bit more insider knowledge on the situation than they are letting on and their strategists knew what schools might be best to call as the numbers would likely be low at the schools chosen.
    With no prior warning to find out the numbers they asked them for they might not have been known by the schools at that time. I wonder if saying they did not know counted as a no to the questions about if any kids had come without lunch.

  9. Chooky 9

    Great Post thanks….what a pity and great disgrace that Mana/Int was sidelined by the Labour Party in the Election

    ….costing New Zealand a Left government coalition which would have addressed the issues of the very poor and many hungry New Zealand children in schools

    ….far better that the government run education system addresses the problem of hungry kids in schools … than pour money into Charter Schools and private schools( Continuing Education was axed and the money given to private schools)

    …Charter Schools which are a waste of hard earned New Zealand taxpayer money by Jonkey nact and corporate friends

    • I’ll think you’ll find Int/mana was sidelined by the voters of Te Tai Tokerau, chooky. For some reason they decided a criminal libertarian millionaire with no apparent social conscience wasn’t going to be the answer to their problems. Clever people, the voters of the North, as Kelvin Davis and Winston Peters can both confirm.

      • Chooky 9.1.1

        …not so clever ….they allowed back in jonkey nactional …which wasnt their intention

        …and you are saying Kim Dotcom is a “criminal libertarian millionaire with no apparent social conscience”

        …on what grounds?

        ….many on the left would disagree with you …however many on the right like John Key and Nactional would agree with you!…interesting..particularly as John Key and Nactional voted against the school lunch programme!

        …certainly Hone Harawira ( Mana/Int ) and Metiria Turei ( Greens) have their finger on the pulse as to the hunger statistics of New Zealand children in education…it has to be a priority for any party that calls itself Left and with a social conscience!…and with an interest in education!…thus far the Greens and Mana/Int come out tops

        • te reo putake 9.1.1.1

          I’d say it was mana that wasn’t clever, chooky. We’ll never know how they would have gone without KDC, but before his arrival they had an MP in Parliament who proved his electability by winning a by-election. After KDC’s involvement … oblivion.

          Re: the criminal millionaire libertarian Kim Dotcom, yes that’s exactly what I’m saying. Any part of it you disagree with? As far as I know, his only socially useful gift ever was a self promoting fireworks display, but maybe he has a history of selfless charity work I’m not aware of.

  10. North 10

    The John Fitzgerald Kennedy administration of ’60-’63 was housed in a stylish Washington DC White House media-coined “Camelot”.

    The JohnPhillipShonKey administration is housed in a faux-grand Parnell Shite House aptly coined “Scamelot & Shamelot & Spamelot”. JPSK’s Monty Pythonesque misbehaviours and those of his lieutenants in the parliament are vivid testament to that character.

    This LA/Colombian scale nouveau-riche toilet seat receives the squat of legions of scammers and shammers and spammers, and an inner circle of cocktail-party-grimaced courtiers. Its parties are marked by the shrill cackle “Let them eat…….oh fuck, whatever…….underclass bludgers !”

    Sad that a tiny nation having produced for the world stage Rutherford, Lovelock, the Maori Battalion, Hillary – the list is long – is left with the occupant of its ‘White House’ a simpering, oftentimes embarrassingly gauche, arse-lick of a tropical climes golf caddie. For whom ‘Kiwi’ is little more than the morning ablutions ritual known as ‘KeyWee’.

    How humiliating !

  11. Cynic 11

    Is it time to start teaching kids how to steal lunch / lunch money from the children of National voters? That’ll ensure change to the current status quo!

    • stigie 11.1

      Not one here has mentioned the parents, where are the parents that should be making sure the kids have lunches to go to school with ??
      Sandwiches cost very very little to make….i say its laziness on part of the parents!

      • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1.1

        Who cares what you reckon?

        You blame the parents for child poverty, and then support the party that always increases unemployment. In the sorts of witless judgmental terms you employ, the National Party is a bludger factory.

        In other words, everything you believe about poverty and inequality is bullshit.

      • It’s possible there are some cases where that’s true, but in my experience most parents would rather go hungry themselves than send their kids to school without breakfast or dinner.

        A lot of it is a matter of deciding what can’t be afforded this week. For people in that situation, you can understand why everyone skipping a few meals is better than being out on the street. They need support to get things sorted, and making sure their kids are fed is a good first step.

        If we throw in the odd free lunch for someone who doesn’t need it or just has a parent that’s not looking after them properly, that really doesn’t bother me.

  12. whateva next? 12

    and yet they can afford to do “workshops” asking children which flag they want???????

    • Both the referendum process and the proposed feed the kids bill would be small budget items. The “cost” is more in legislative time and political capital for either. Feeding kids would annoy parts of National’s base who see people in need as lazy or bludgers, so they support private charities to do it on a very limited basis to avoid those criticisms.

  13. Sable 13

    I read an article in RT about the same thing happening in the UK. Teachers and schools reaching into their pockets to feed and even clothe children. Its disgusting what Shameron and Shonkey are doing to both countries.

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