The Government needs to urgently reconsider its position to not provide funding for breakfasts and lunches for children who go to school hungry, the Green Party said today.
The call comes after an Upper Hutt community group revealed it is struggling to get businesses to support a local school lunch programme, and after a report from the Christian Council of Social Services which showed some parents can’t afford to pay for food as well as pay their rent.
“Thousands of Kiwi kids are going to school hungry every day, through no fault of their own, and the Government is standing by and expecting community groups to step into the breach and feed them,” Green Party spokesperson Marama Davidson said.
“Many New Zealand families are really struggling to make ends meet at the moment, and some are clearly having to forgo putting food on the table so that they can keep a roof over their heads.
“It’s admirable that community organisations like the one in Upper Hutt are willing to step up and feed the kids when the Government isn’t, but what happens when those community organisations can’t get financial backing?
“Leaving it up to cash-strapped community organisations to feed our hungry children clearly isn’t working, and that’s why we need the Government to step in.
“I currently have a Member’s Bill in the ballot to ensure that schools are able to access support to feed the students on their roll who aren’t getting enough breakfast or lunch to be able to learn properly.
“The Government could easily take that Bill on as its own, and get cross-Parliamentary support for it.
“If we want education to be a pathway out of poverty, then kids need to be able to focus on learning in class, not worry about their grumbling tummy.
“All children should have equal access to the opportunities that a good education provides, and part of that is to ensure they have enough good food in their tummies to be able to learn,” Ms Davidson said.