Our community is really struggling and food is a huge issue. Many children don’t come with much. One boy in particular used to hang around after lunch. He’d already eaten what he had, and then he’d come to see what scraps he could find because he was so hungry. It was heartbreaking.
Other children who had no food would sit next to someone with lunch and try to take it, or even go into their bag to try and find food. Without their nutritional needs met, we had a lot of kids with behavioural problems.
Most children weren’t turning up until Wednesday when their parents’ pay cheques came in. They’re quite shy, some of our families, and they won’t say when they’re struggling. I try to have a private chat to ask them if they need help. We’d tell them, ‘Don’t worry it’s ok to send your kids, we can provide for them.’ But we didn’t have the budget to provide as much food as we would have liked.
We needed help. I donate to KidsCan every month - my own child was at a low decile school and I thought it was so cool that tamariki received rain jackets and shoes and socks. So when I got an email from them about extending their support to early childhood centres I had to apply.
We were accepted and it’s been amazing. Our attendance has gone right up. We’ve had such great feedback from the parents. They love looking at the menu to see what food is coming. It took awhile for the kids to adjust to food like chickpeas and ravioli - a lot of them are used to cheaper packet foods - but now they eat all of it and ask for seconds.
They’re different kids, they’re sustained and focused and have more energy. With healthier options, it’s so much better for their learning. And now we have more money to go towards buying other resources in the centre. It’s a different place here now and we’re so thankful for that.
KidsCan supports more than 2000 children in 61 early childhood centres. 119 more centres have asked for help. To support vulnerable Kiwi preschoolers with food, shoes, raincoats and health items sign up to support a child today.