How long do hungry school kids need to wait?

The budget didn’t do it. How long do we need to wait before this Government supports schools with their hungry children?

There are thousands of children who go to school without breakfast or lunch. It’s not even new. In 1987, that’s 26 years ago, concerned teachers in my school planned and developed a system to feed breakfast to hungry children. Even though there were wider issues in our community, such as damp houses, poorly paid jobs and poor health …we knew kids needed food before learning could happen. We formed a breakfast club.
 
This is how it worked. Bread was provided by the Tiptop factory and local cafes gave muffins and scones. The older students prepared and delivered trays of food to all classes so all children had a breakfast option. The spin off was significant - I definitely noticed that after a good breakfast the children were ready for learning. We were even on ‘Close up’ who filmed our ‘Breakfast Club’ to alert New Zealand to this serious issue way back then.  
 
All these years later where are we?  Many schools and their communities are still developing programmes to support and feed children with help from different agencies. The problem hasn’t improved and there is increasing discussion and debate.
 
There were no solutions in this budget, or even reference to money put aside. The Government now say there will be an announcement in the near future.  Jonathan Boston, Co-Chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty, wrote ‘child poverty can be reduced, and it ought to be. Doing so would constitute a great investment in all our future.
 
All it requires is the necessary political will,’ (The Dominion, September 2010). There has to be political will and a sense of urgency. If not we will still be talking about this in 26 years but it will be much worse.  
 
Karen Coulton
Accent Learning
 
Show your support. Register in the “Poverty Impacts on Learning” symposium, 24 May.
 
Click here for details.