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Food Poverty in Whangarei launch of research report

Food Poverty in Whangarei launch of research report

Recent research into food poverty in Whangarei has revealed the huge amount of food being provided to hungry children.

On Monday 2nd April the Whangarei Child Poverty Action Group will launch their research report “Empty Food Baskets: Food Poverty in Whangarei”.

This research was conducted in Whangarei last year with all charitable food providers and most schools with a decile rating of 1-4.

Key research findings:
• More than 400 food parcels are provided each month through charitable organizations
• About 1100 special need grants for food from Work and Income are provided each month
• A third of the total primary school population in decile 1-4 schools receive food assistance weekly

The main reason families needed supplementary food was simply not having enough money. As one of the research participants stated: “Families on low income or benefit in some instances can just manage if they don't smoke, drink, gamble, have no car, no debt and don't go out”.

“The results of this research show a frightening picture for too many children in Whangarei. In a country that has long been a major food producer it is scandalous that so many report going without food in order to make ends meet. The fact that this is the experience of so many New Zealand children makes the scandal even worse,” says Mike O’Brien, co-convenor Child Poverty Action Group.

“One of the worst aspects of the growth in child poverty and in the numbers of children not having enough to eat has been the complete failure of government to respond sensibly and effectively. The failure to put in place effective and appropriate policies to reduce child poverty tells us very clearly that children are not very important. Words are easy, but actions (or perhaps here inaction) is a much clearer signal of how little children really matter, especially if those children are poor,” says Mr O’Brien.

The Whangarei Child Poverty Action Group are recommending several actions for the Government including providing a free, quality breakfast to all children in decile 1 and 2 schools and continuing support for the Fruit in Schools programme.

At a local level the group is recommending the establishment of a “Food Network” for providers of food and/or top-up parcels, and organisations developing food co-operatives or community gardens in Whangarei District.

ENDS

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