160,000 hungry kids need your help today
KidsCan is urging more action after this year’s Child Poverty Monitor found one in five New Zealand children – more than 160,000 kids - live in households without access to either enough food, or enough healthy food.
The figures echo KidsCan’s own data, which shows that in schools from deciles 1 to 4, 20 percent of the role is experiencing food insecurity. CEO Julie Chapman says the number of families battling material hardship seems to be increasing. “42 more schools put their hands up for KidsCan help this year. We’re feeding more than 30,000 kids a week. Principals are telling us that without the support of KidsCan, KickStart Breakfast, and Fruit In Schools, many kids wouldn’t make it to class each day.”
This year KidsCan has distributed a record 5.27 million food items - up 15 percent on last year.
“But it’s more than food,” Chapman says. “When we started 13 years ago, we provided food, shoes and raincoats. Now we’re supplying things like feminine hygiene products and nit treatment. We’re seeing an erosion of people’s ability to afford the basics. And a lot of that is down to the high cost of housing.” The Child Poverty Monitor found 39% of households in the lowest income quintile spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs, compared to 14% of households in the highest income quintile.
Tamatea High School principal Robin Fabish says housing is one issue putting pressure on the budgets of families in his community. He asked for KidsCan help a year ago, after noticing behavioural issues due to hunger.
“It’s hard for kids to concentrate in the morning if they’ve got empty stomachs. Sometimes kids are just angry. It’s easy for them to get upset over small things when they’re hungry.”
The Child Poverty Monitor highlights the huge impact that poverty can have on a child’s chance of success. It found 68% of students from the most disadvantaged communities achieved NCEA level 2 in 2017, compared to 93% from the most advantaged communities.
“It’s not a level playing field,” Fabish says. He says having the resources to feed students at school is making a marked difference. “Morally I think that’s the right thing for us to be doing… Once we give them a feed, they’re feeling a lot happier. It means we can focus on learning, instead of having to deal with behavioural things. “We know that if we can get kids to school, we can support them to get a good qualification and to develop a strong pathway. We’ve got some good results this year so we’re really pleased about that. Every little thing we can do makes a difference.”
90 percent of 461 principals surveyed by KidsCan this year believed the charity’s support was removing barriers for students, and improving attendance and participation.
“I don’t think anyone in New Zealand wants a society where a child’s success is determined by how wealthy their parents are,” Julie Chapman says. “Yes, the Government is introducing measures to make a difference - but they will take time to implement. Those 160,000 children need our help today.”
Kiwis can sign up to support children in hardship at www.kidscan.org.nz. $20 a month gives a child food, shoes, a jacket and health items, giving them the same opportunities as other kids.