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Charity Feeding 10,000 More Children A Day As Soaring Living Costs Have ‘immense’ Impact

Students are suffering as their families’ food budgets shrink, with an increasing number arriving at school ‘hungry, cold, and miserable,’ teachers say. As schools return for term four, the focus for many won’t be teaching – but feeding children who have survived the holidays on limited food. KidsCan has seen a sharp rise in demand, with schools ordering food for over 10,000 more children a day than at the start of the year.

KidsCan surveyed its partner schools on the impact of the rising cost of living, with more than five hundred responses. Teachers said some students were surviving on food provided at school, with cupboards at home empty by the end of each week. They were also helping more families access food banks.

“Parents are having to decide between bills and basic essentials for their children, even with both parents working,” one principal wrote. Another reported one child telling her, ‘Dad was crying last night because he said it's his job to feed us kids, but he doesn't get enough money, and everything is so expensive.’ “Children are worried about family money and their parents’ well-being,” she said.

Some students were living in grim conditions, with increasing overcrowding as families couldn’t afford both rent and enough food. One school reported a child living in a 3-bedroom home with nineteen others. “Sadly, this is not unusual,” the teacher wrote. Petrol costs were affecting attendance, with one school picking up sixty children every day. High schools reported reduced attendance as senior students worked part-time to support their families or left altogether.

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Teachers were seeing an impact not just on students’ education, but their wellbeing too. Several schools said they’d seen a drop in the number of students able to participate in sport. School camp letters didn’t make it home if students thought their parents couldn’t afford it.

The increase in demand comes as KidsCan has seen a drop in regular givers, who are having to tighten their own budgets. The charity is now supporting 877 schools nationwide, helping to feed more than 49,000 students a day. A further thirty-nine schools are waiting for help, with most applying since April as costs rose. KidsCan also supports more than 7,000 students in 177 early childhood centres nationwide with food and clothing.

“The situation is pretty dire. We’re seeing record demand for KidsCan food at school, as families go hungry at home,” KidsCan’s founder and CEO Julie Chapman says. “We are bringing in more food to meet the increased demand from our partner schools, while also working to reach those children on our waitlist. But with our costs rising, and a drop in people able to donate every month, we need more help from individuals and businesses too. Too much of the burden is falling on overwhelmed teachers, and they need all the support we can give them.”

To donate visit: www.kidscan.org.nz - Thank you for including this link in your coverage

About KidsCan

KidsCan is New Zealand’s leading charity dedicated to helping Kiwi kids affected by poverty. We help the 1 in 5 children experiencing hardship by providing food, jackets, shoes, and health products to 877 low-decile schools and 177 early childhood centres across New Zealand. With these basics, kids can participate in learning and have the opportunity for a better future.

In 2021 KidsCan supplies included:

One million hot meals

67,000 jackets

31,000 pairs of shoes

6,200 emergency food parcels for families

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