''The attendance team heard from one family that their sons hadn't been attending school because they didn't have any food. And so they then contacted them and told them there was a Breakfast Club at school and we can give them lunch at school too.''
Sky-high food prices are being felt in classrooms, and KidsCan is now feeding 10,000 more hungry students compared to the beginning of the year. As children return to school for Term 4, Kidscan said it had fielded calls from principals who were in tears about the hunger and poverty they were seeing among students.
Verity Brogden is a 20-year old ambassador for KidsCan. ''I want to be a voice for kids in poverty. Not enough of us speak out about living through it, so then we're just thought of as statistics. And it's easier to ignore it, and to pretend it's not happening.''
We started out in 40 low decile schools, providing raincoats and snacks, packed, and sent from my home. Now we have a warehouse literally packed to the rafters with supplies for more than 850 schools nationwide: breakfast food, snacks, hot lunches, jackets, solid shoes, head lice treatment, hand sanitiser, tissues and more.
Vulnerable children are bearing the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis, with teachers in schools and early childhood centres supported by KidsCan reporting increasing concerns for their wellbeing. The charity has seen a spike in applications for help, with more than two thousand children on its waitlist. It has launched an urgent appeal to help feed children as winter hits.
“It’s clear how much this food means,” says Malan, the Assistant Principal at Haeata Community Campus, a decile 1 school in Christchurch. “We see a real difference in focus when our students are full.”