Kids turn up for school without lunch: Principals

Kids turn up for school without lunch: Principals

Friday, March 4, 2016

About a third of the pupils at some Waikato schools turn up without lunch or without enough food for the day.

The problem exists to varying degrees at schools around the Waikato, and three are waiting for support from charity KidsCan.
Parents sometimes have nothing in the cupboard between pay weeks, Kihikihi School acting
principal Cleonie Whyte said.
Around a third of the kids at the 140-student school turn up without lunch or with just an apple or sandwich most days.
‘‘[Families] are just trying to make ends meet,’’ Whyte said.
‘‘They have to pay the power, they have to have a roof over their heads.’’
It wasn’t for lack of care, she said, as working parents go without to feed their kids and give back to the school in other ways.
The school already has a breakfast club and a school garden, but is on the KidsCan waitlist and will soon start the fruit-in-schools programme.
Lunchless kids also make up about 30 per cent of Hamilton Junior High School’s roll, according to
acting principal Rebecca Hodgson.
Many wouldn’t have had breakfast either, she said, meaning they could be more irritable and tired.
Issues for families included poverty and money going on rent and utilities, and not having adults at home in the morning to pack lunch.
About 20 children a day need lunch at Hamilton’s Insoll Avenue School, principal Linda McCabe
said, and they’re not the same ones every day. Reasons are varied:
‘‘They have no lunch, they ate lunch at interval and are still hungry, they forgot or left it at
home.’’
Emergency lunches are available at Te Awamutu Primary School, principal Gareth Duncan
said. A little more than 5 per cent of the pupils have families who struggle to provide lunch and the school tries to support them.
Low-income families could be paying $450 in weekly rent, Hamilton’s Deanwell School principal Pat Poland said. ‘‘No wonder they
sometimes struggle to provide lunch, pay their school donation or camp fees.’’
The Ministry of Education said there was the KickStart Breakfast programme, which reached more than 27,000 children, and a fruit in schools programme that covered more than 550 schools.