Record deliver: KidsCan distributes over 1 million food items to 583 schools

Friday, October 27, 2017

The kids at Mangere East Primary school laugh and grin as they rip into the freshly delivered boxes of muesli bars and baked beans.

They're just one of the 583 schools to be part of KidsCan's largest ever food delivery.

Over 1 million items of food are being sent out this month.

[Asenati Auvele, 12, Losa Sakopo, 13, and Margaret Lelenga, 13, from Mangere East Primary School joined class mates as they unpack a delivery of food from KidsCan. Photo / Greg Bowker]

Mangere East Primary assistant principal Michelle Hillman said the numbers of kids needing breakfast had tripled since they started getting help from KidsCan three years ago. Around 50 children used to turn up in the morning, now they see 180 students at breakfast.

"This winter it's been a bit harder on parents, they're finding life more difficult," Hillman told the Herald.

"Our kids come from backgrounds with parents who have low paying jobs or are jobless. They come from large families and finding enough food can be hard."

According to the latest information released by the Office of the Children's Commissioner 155,000 Kiwi kids, or 14 per cent, are living in hardship. With many families spending 60 per cent of their income on rent, leaving not enough money for other bills, food and necessities such as transport and clothing.

Without the KidsCan breakfast some children would be coming to school with nothing, Hillman said. Students had told her that even on the weekend they don't get breakfast.

"Kids can't learn on an empty tummy. This means teachers have a more challenging time in the classroom.

"[With breakfast] kids can concentrate and it sets them up for a successful day of learning."

The low-decile, 580-pupil school also gets donations from Eat My Lunch and Fonterra.

The food provided by KidsCan consists of fresh bread, fruit pottles, scroggin mix, baked beans, yoghurt, spreads, snack bars and hot meals. The charity has also worked with schools to create orchards, with 350 fruit trees being planted this year alone to provide children with ongoing healthy snacks.

Ioane Pasikala, 10, said he felt grateful and happy with the food that "helps us fill our brains". The extra meals helped him to think more.

[Rabia Khan, 10, strains under the weight of a heavy box of food. Photo / Greg Bowker]

Asenati Auvele, 12, said KidsCan made a huge difference to her school.

"Some students come to school with empty tummies. It gives them the energy to learn and have a great day for learning."

[Co-founder and chief executive of KidsCan Julie Chapman hopes more people will donate so they can provide food to more schools. Photo / Supplied]

KidsCan chief executive Julie Chapman said the record delivery was because they were able to take 25 schools off their waiting list after they got more sponsors at the end of last term. Now every week they feed over 30,000 students.

There are still 16 schools on the waiting list.

"We need more people to sign up to support children... Let's get these kids off the waiting list.

"The long term goal is KidsCan will meet the immediate needs while work is being done in Government to lift incomes, which will eventually mean we're not needed anymore. But it's important to meet those needs right now."

In 2005 when KidsCan started it was providing food and clothing items to 40 low decile schools.

By: Sarah Harris
- NZ Herald