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Free school breakfasts an investment in learning

16 August 2005

Free school breakfasts an investment in kids' learning

The Greens support today's call from the Child Poverty Action Group for all decile one and two schools to be funded to provide their children with free breakfasts, Education Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"The Greens have been looking at free breakfasts in schools for some time," Mrs Turei said. "We have worked through the economics of it and found that the cost to schools will be prohibitive without specific Government assistance.

"There is wide international recognition that education is the long-term key to ending poverty, so it makes sense to invest in a simple initiative that will go a long way to ensuring that the most impoverished children are able to learn effectively. This all about ending the poverty cycle.

"A staggered introduction at decile one and two schools would be a fiscally responsible first step towards providing free breakfasts for all the kids who need them at all primary schools and early education centres.

"The Greens' Education Policy calls for the establishment of a cross-sector working party to investigate how free healthy breakfasts can be provided in all primary schools and early childhood services.

"Many schools already provide basic breakfast food, but it's teachers who are seeing the need and are spending their own money on it.

"A third of our children still live in poverty. They cannot learn effectively if they're under-nourished. Raising the minimum wage and increasing benefit levels would go a long way to relieving the poverty, but state schools can also play a significant role."

The Greens' Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley, who is campaigning for school tuck shops to sell healthy food, says poor diet is the single biggest cause of ill health.

"It is absolutely essential that we get serious about improving the health of New Zealand children. Having kids eat a good breakfast in the morning will make sure they can learn in the afternoon," Ms Kedgley says.

ENDS

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