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UNICEF NZ Urges MPs to Give Kids Best Start in Life

UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund)

Media release

Wednesday 1st May, 2013

 

UNICEF NZ Urges MPs to Give Kids Best Start in Life

-        Education (Breakfast and Lunch in Schools) Bill -

With 270,000 children living in poverty in New Zealand, UNICEF NZ is urging all MPs to back the Education (Breakfast and Lunch in Schools) Amendment Bill, and help mitigate some of the hardship currently faced by many Kiwi children.

The bill is due to progress through its first reading in Parliament in early June, where MPs will have the chance to vote for it to advance to Select Committee stage.

UNICEF NZ is supporting the Community Campaign for Food in Schools, which launches today to support political and community progress to implement a national food in schools strategy. 

Barbara Lambourn, National Advocacy Manager at UNICEF NZ said, “Making sure that children have at least one substantial, nourishing meal each school day, will ensure that children can thrive at school and be more likely to reach their full potential.

“Hungry children are unhappy children. They have difficulty concentrating, it’s hard for them to learn, they are likely to be sick and they are often unsettled which makes it difficult for other children and teachers.

“Food in Schools is a key recommendation of the Experts Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty which the Government is yet to respond to.  The activity could be implemented quickly and at a cost of around $100m per year, but this would be offset by the potential to save many more millions in health and social welfare budgets over time,” said Ms Lambourn.

UNICEF NZ notes that a child’s right to survival and healthy development, expressed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC), is a primary platform for better outcomes for children in every dimension.

Ms Lambourn added, “What is good for children is good for the nation. Members of Parliament endorsed their commitment to children’s wellbeing in a statement to the House on March 13th, the 20th anniversary of New Zealand ratifying the UNCROC. Here is an opportunity to put meaning behind the words and make a difference for thousands of children.

“The Select Committee process will allow New Zealanders to hear and contribute views about helping children to have better chances in life through this Bill. We are urging all MPs to vote this Bill through to that next stage and show that we are indeed a nation that cares about all of our children.”

ENDS

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