“A child whose parents cannot even provide two pieces of toast in the morning or a bowl of porridge highlights a number of real concerns. A parent who is unwilling to provide packed lunches may not be providing other necessities that a child requires,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“And how do we know that they are receiving meals at night or during the weekend? The level of neglect may be far greater than just providing breakfast and lunches on weekdays.”
“Secondly, there is a welfare system in New Zealand. Every home has a source of income. The important question is – what is the money being spent on, and is that appropriate? Are they receiving their correct entitlement? And in the case of welfare payments, will food vouchers solve part of the problem?”
“Pressuring government and companies to fund food in school programmes is a short-term bandage for a much more serious and longer-term illness. It also creates a dependence on a service which may not always be able to be provided. And if decile one and decile two schools, why not decile three, four, and five?”
“The best investment by the government would be to provide budgeting advice and support for families who are struggling, including education on healthy eating and cooking skills. Where there is genuine financial need – and there are sure to be genuine cases out there – WINZ should play a role so that we start to understand the extent of the problem,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Schools want to provide an important stop-gap measure which is to be admired, but the greater issue is – is it solving the problem long-term? And if food is not being provided, what else is the parents either failing to, or unable to, provide.”
“Children should not be punished by having parents who are failing to fulfil a basic parenting role. The danger is that we could be simply rewarding bad parenting.”