Milk is a good start

Central Leader - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

THE head­mas­ter of a decile two pri­mary school says that while Fon­terra’s new milk scheme will be good for stu­dents, a gov­ern­ment­driven food-in-schools pro­gramme would be ben­e­fi­cial for the whole com­mu­nity.

The dairy gi­ant will be rolling out the Milk In Schools scheme in the new year to class­rooms na­tion­wide af­ter deem­ing its North­land pi­lot pro­gramme a success.

Schools that opt-in to the scheme will re­ceive a 180ml bot­tle of milk for each stu­dent daily.

Prin­ci­pal Lynda Stu­art says the pro­gramme will lend a help­ing hand to May Road School, which feeds stu­dents through con­tri­bu­tions.

In Septem­ber the Cen­tral Leader vis­ited the Mt Roskill pri­mary school that five years ago be­gan giv­ing chil­dren break­fasts and lunches – paid for by the school or through gifts from busi­nesses. Soon, other or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Kid­sCan char­ity and San­i­tar­ium came on board and do­nated food for the kids.

‘‘If you want them to learn you need to feed them and they can’t be hun­gry. It’s pretty ob­vi­ous to our class- room teach­ers that when they aren’t hun­gry they learn bet­ter,’’ Mrs Stu­art says.

She says the com­mu­nity has since of­fered sun­dries such as spreads and ce­real.

The new Milk in Schools ini­tia­tive will also help.

‘‘The chil­dren get milk with their ce­real and oc­ca­sion­ally they will get a glass of milk but it de­pends on how many are coming to Break­fast Club,’’ Mrs Stu­art says.

‘‘If there are 30 or 40 coming then there isn’t much left over at the end of the week.’’

She is glad about the ex­tra milk but says a food-inschools pro­gramme as re­com- mended to the Government by the Chil­dren’s Com­mis­sioner’s ex­pert group ear­lier this month would be a great help.

‘‘We feed a num­ber of chil­dren lunch but it’s not really a sub­stan­tial lunch un­less we get given the bread and some­thing to go on it,’’ she says.

‘‘The food-in-schools would be really ben­e­fi­cial to some of our fam­i­lies.’’

The rec­om­men­da­tion was one of 80 from the ex­pert group to tackle child poverty.

Food-in-schools was pro­moted as one of the least costly and eas­i­est mea­sures to im­ple­ment for im­prov­ing con­di­tions for many chil­dren.

Other ‘‘low cost’’ rec­om­men­da­tions in­cluded es­tab­lish­ing a War­rant of Fit­ness for all ren­tal hous­ing and pass-on child sup­port pay­ments to sole par­ents who are on a state-pro­vided ben­e­fit.

The Child Poverty Ac­tion Group sup­ports the call for food-in-schools, say­ing there is ev­ery rea­son to be­lieve food in­se­cu­rity re­mains an is­sue for many fam­i­lies.

Spokes­woman Donna Wynd says at an es­ti­mated cost of $25-30 mil­lion a year it is a ‘‘cheap in­vest­ment’’ in the fu­ture well­be­ing of the na­tion’s chil­dren.

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