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CPAG calls for a cohesive plan to feed hungry children in schools

CPAG director Mike O’Brien says children living in poverty will continue to go to school hungry unless the Government takes a more comprehensive approach.

O’Brien says the announcement that Government will expand existing initiatives to feed children in schools showed a lack of commitment to address the severity of child poverty in New Zealand. “If this is the best the Government can do about child poverty then children are in for a continuing rough time.”

CPAG backs a multifaceted approach that provides a consistent and sustainable arrangement for the provision of food to children in low-decile school rather than relying on a five-year programme dependent on the goodwill of corporate sponsors.

The group says it is important to have clear and transparent nutritional guidelines for all food provided to children in low-decile schools.  Monitoring programmes are crucial to assess the number of children receiving assistance and the effects of programmes such as behavioural improvements, better attendance and academic improvement.

Food in Schools needs to be part of a broader programme to address child poverty including raising incomes for the lowest income households and addressing the severe shortage of affordable housing in Auckland and Christchurch.