No excuse to delay on food in schools

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has renewed its call for breakfast to be provided to children in decile one, two and three primary and intermediate schools. The call comes after the release of the Children’s Health Monitor showing hospital admissions for poverty-related disease are still above 2007 levels, and the Children’s Commissioner’s recommendation to implement a food in schools programme.

A research report by CPAG published last year found income was the biggest barrier to children having breakfast regularly. The group says that as unemployment has risen there is every reason to believe that food insecurity remains an issue for many low-income families.

CPAG spokesperson Donna Wynd says the benefits of breakfast include improved nutrition and better school attendance.

“We know that poverty and poor nutrition can affect a child’s development. At an estimated cost of $25-30 million dollars a year, this is a cheap investment we can make in the future wellbeing of our children and young people. Food in schools is a direct provision to our most vulnerable children, and would ensure that children would be guaranteed some nutritious food in their diets. We can’t continue to ignore the immediacy of hunger while we wait for the economy to improve.”

CPAG is encouraging people to support the Mana Party’s bill which would require decile one to three schools to provide food for children who need it.

“This Bill can make a real difference for children’s education and is a chance to start to break the cycle of poor nutrition, poor health and poverty. We call on all the parties to support this Bill when it comes before the House in February next year,” said Wynd