Kiwi kids are missing school rather than turn up with no lunch | Stuff.co.nz
Children around the country are missing school rather than turn up with no lunch, because their families feel ashamed.
People who work with food banks and schools say the problem has widened from beneficiaries to low-income families in which both parents work, sometimes more than one job, and still struggle to pay the bills.
Representatives of the Salvation Army, Child Poverty Action Group, Public Health Association, KidsCan and NZ Educational Institute were all aware of children being kept at home by caregivers rather than go to school with no lunch.
Jeni Cartwright of the Child Poverty Action Group says there is no reporting on the numbers of children who miss school days because they don’t have lunch, but the CPAG research paper Hunger for Learning described it as “common”.
A Salvation Army spokesman says that when families are struggling to pay bills, the food shop is one of the first things to be trimmed.
Every day families ask the Salvation Army’s Hamilton food bank for lunch box basics, such as muesli bars and bread, that children can take to school.
KidsCan provides food for close to 30,000 children at decile 1 to 4 primary, intermediate and high schools each week. Chief executive Julie Chapman says the charity serves 675 schools and there are 40 more on the waiting list.
Around 22 percent of the children at those schools would go hungry at some point during the week, up from 11 percent in 2011, she says.