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Fonterra is the Govt's ambulance at bottom of poverty cliff

11 December 2011

Fonterra is the Govt's ambulance at bottom of poverty cliff

Fonterra’s plan to supply milk to children in schools, starting in Northland, highlights how bad child poverty has got in New Zealand says the Green Party.

“Milk in schools is a response to poverty and hunger. Ending poverty is the responsibility of the Government, not Fonterra,” said Green Party children’s spokesperson Holly Walker.

“270,000 Kiwi children live in poverty. Those kids need the basics like milk, but their parents need good jobs and better Government support so they can supply them.

“Fonterra has become the ambulance at the bottom of the Government’s poverty cliff.

“Milk in schools was introduced by the first Labour government to improve the health and welfare of children during the depression. It is an indictment on this government’s economic and social policies that the scheme is needed again.

“While Fonterra’s scheme is welcomed, we should not be relying on profit driven companies to provide childrens food basics.

“What happens when milk supply decreases, or Fonterra profits dip? This scheme is not a sustainable way to address kids’ health and wellbeing.

“Fonterra’s charity would not be needed if children could show up to school well nourished.”

The Green Party has a plan to bring 100,000 children out of poverty by 2014. These solutions are: 1) make Working for Families work for every low-income family; 2) provide better study support for sole parents and beneficiaries; 3) raise the minimum wage to help working parents; and 4) make sure rental properties are warm and healthy for kids.

“If the Government want to get serious about kids’ health it should immediately raise the minimum wage to $15 so working parents have a bit more money to provide the basics for their kids,” said Ms Walker.

“The Government can extend the in work tax credit to all parents on benefits to ensure their children go to school with full bellies.

"Child poverty costs us all, but it doesn't cost much to end it. Implementing our solutions to bring 100,000 children out of poverty would cost approximately $360 million per year for the next three years — less than 0.3 percent of GDP.

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