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Food in schools good start in fight against underachievement

28 May 2013

Food in schools – good start in fight against educational underachievement

NZEI Te Riu Roa says the much-needed initiative to provide food for children in schools is an acknowledgement by the Government that poverty and educational achievement are inextricably linked.

NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Judith Nowotarski says providing children with food in schools is the right thing to do because children who are hungry are unable to learn as well as those who are well-fed.

She says many teachers have been coping with hungry children in schools for a long time now and they know the effect that poverty has on learning.

“Feeding kids in schools is a good start towards mitigating the effects of poverty. But we need to do a lot more than this.

“To put this in perspective, the $9.5 million increase in cost to extend this programme over five years is less than $2-million dollars a year yet child poverty is costing this country at least $6-billion in health, remedial education and reduced productivity costs.

“We need policies that acknowledge that many kids are unfairly failing at school because of problems associated with poverty such as overcrowded and cold housing, preventable illnesses and lack of food.”

She says, as a country, we ought to be ashamed that we have allowed child poverty in New Zealand to double since the 1980s.

Mrs Nowotarski says another disturbing trend that many teachers are now seeing is the level of poverty amongst children who have parents in work.

“In many cases, both parents are working long hours and yet are unable to provide basic essentials because of the effects of low pay and high costs such as rent.

“That’s why NZEI Te Riu Roa strongly supports the Living Wage campaign. It’s a simple case of fairness. All children should have the opportunity to participate in society and have a family income that can support that.”

ENDS

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