Breakfast and lunch provided to Kiwi Kids in schools

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The Problem: In New Zealand, around 290,000 of our children live in poverty which is 27% of the child population. These statistics come with the harsh reality that 1 in 5 Kiwi kids live in severe to moderately severe food insecurity; meaning that their households have very limited access to nutritionally adequate foods. Living in food insecurity has long-lasting, detrimental effects on a child as it impacts their memory, social and learning skills. At school, these children often have a low attention span, behavioural issues, and discipline issues as a result of not being able to focus. Spending long periods living in poverty, and thus food insecurity as a child makes it difficult to do well in later life. Students experiencing food insecurity in New Zealand are 6 times more likely to leave school without gaining NCEA Level 1 and are also half as likely to gain university entrance as students who aren’t experiencing food insecurity. Therefore, this issue harms the socioeconomic wellbeing of New Zealand as it is largely decreasing the number of Kiwis who go on to further education to benefit our society.  

The Solution: In 2012, the Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools) Amendment Bill was introduced to the New Zealand Parliament by MP Metiria Turei. The Bill’s purpose was to introduce a full government-funded breakfast and lunch to all students enrolled at decile 1 and 2 schools or a designated school which qualified in New Zealand. The Bill also required that the Ministry of Health was to provide suitable nutritional guidelines for the programme for the Boards of schools to follow. However, in 2015, the First Reading of the Bill was negatived by the members of Parliament.  

The Reason: This year, I have dedicated my assessments in Social Studies to Child Poverty in New Zealand and have been shocked at the sheer scale of this issue right here, in our communities. I have concluded that ensuring these children suffering from poverty receive an education where they can reach their full potential will be the most effective way to end the family’s cycle of poverty; therefore, reducing child poverty numbers in New Zealand. By signing this petition, you are telling our government that they need to do more for our children before poverty engulfs them.  

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