Kickstart programme comes under fire from left and right
While schools may be happy to receive the Government’s extra support for breakfast programmes, the glass is still half empty for some critics.
The prime minister this week announced the Government would be contributing to the KickStart breakfast programme which has been operating as a partnership between Fonterra and Sanitarium since 2009.
The programme provides cereal and milk-based breakfasts to more than 570 decile 1 to 4 schools nationwide.
John Key announced the Government would be putting up 50 per cent of the costs, with the other half being matched by Fonterra and Sanitarium.
This contribution will see the programme stretch from two days a week to five days a week.
The cost to the Government is up to $9.5 million over a committed five years.
However Mr Key is insistent that feeding children is still a parent’s obligation.
‘‘The Government believes parents have the primary responsibility for providing their kids with the basics, including a decent breakfast and a pair of shoes,’’ he says.
‘‘But the fact remains that some children are going to school hungry and therefore not in good shape to learn.’’
Lobby group Auckland Action Against Poverty says the limited expansion of the KickStart programme is a ‘‘token gesture’’.
‘‘Committing less than $2 million a year for five years is paltry and insulting,’’ spokesman Michael Brenndorfer says.
‘‘By making businesses carry the can and most of the financial responsibility for the KickStart programme, National is entrenching private charity as the way to ensure our kids don’t go hungry. But poverty is a social issue and a publicgovernment responsibility.’’
MP for Epsom and ACT leader John Banks has also criticised the initiative, calling it a ‘‘band-aid that hides the real problem’’.
‘‘Rather than create a new welfare scheme, we should be looking at why kids are going to school hungry. We should then look closely at the assistance already in place,’’ Mr Banks says.
In addition to the $9.5 million to KickStart, the Government is granting $1.5m over three years to KidsCan.