Call for all MPs to support Food in Schools Bill
23 January 2013: News from CPAG
Child Poverty Action Group calls on all MPs to support Food in Schools Bill
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is calling on all political parties to support Mana's Food in Schools Amendment Bill. The Bill would provide for state-funded breakfast and lunch to children in decile one and two schools. CPAG spokesperson Donna Wynd says the evidence for the benefits of breakfast for children who might otherwise miss out is too great to ignore.
"We know from many studies that breakfast improves children's school attendance, their ability to learn, and makes them less disruptive in class. It also improves their nutrition which has great health benefits.
"We are calling on all MPs from every party to support this Bill. New Zealand has an international obligation to ensure that all children have access to adequate and nutritious food. When families don't have the resources, we need to make sure their children don't miss out. Let's give all our kids a chance to succeed," said Ms Wynd.
As the government looks for ways to improve children's educational outcomes, providing food to hungry children is an obvious step in the right direction. The Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group also recommended providing food to children in low-decile schools in its report last year. CPAG argues it is short-sighted to expect charities to fulfill this role as they may withdraw their support at any time.
The Bill will be introduced to Parliament on the 13th of February. The Bill works on an 'opt-in' basis and provides for the monitoring and evaluation of programmes. There is nothing that will stop schools with existing programmes continuing to work with their communities to provide those programmes, however it will mean secure funding for schools with part-time programmes or that currently do not have them.