The Green Party is challenging Treasury officials to work for a week without eating properly, in light of their advice to Government that a food in schools programme is not needed.
“Treasury’s advice was that providing food for children in schools would not improve learning or attendance,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Tueri.
“We dispute this. Teachers, who are the ones on the ground seeing the day-to-day effects, have been great advocates of food in schools programmes, and there is plenty of evidence proving their benefits.
“If Treasury officials don’t think going without food is an issue, perhaps they should try it themselves and see how it impacts their work and wellbeing.
“Hungry kids can’t learn properly. The purpose of a food in schools programme is to alleviate hunger, support children’s development and improve learning.
“Try telling Russell School in Cannons Creek, or Manurewa Primary that there’s no evidential basis for food in schools and they’d point to their pupils kids and say, ‘there’s your evidence’.
“We don’t have to have hungry children in our society. Every child being fed is a good indicator of a decent society that is working for everyone.
“Income in New Zealand is low; some parents just do not have sufficient income to ensure their children have nutritious meals every day.
One in 11 kids from lower decile schools go to school with no food and nearly half of all families in big cities regularly run out of food.
“Schools and Kidscan have advised me that parents do not send their children to school if they have run out of food for lunch. A school lunch would avoid this, improving attendance and learning outcomes,” said Mrs Turei.
The Green Party’s School Hubs programme would make lunch available at all decile 1 to 4 primary and intermediate schools, but be available to other schools based on need.
“Investing in a child’s well-being is an investment in the future of New Zealand; it’s time Treasury started looking beyond numbers,” said Mrs Tūrei.