Some find Govt breakfast boost hard to digest
While schools are happy to receive the Government’s extra support for breakfast programmes, the glass is still half empty for some critics.
Prime Minister John Key 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.
Mr 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 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 are not in good shape to learn.’’
Mt Roskill Grammar has been part of the programme since early 2010 and supplements the KickStart supplied food with school-funded toast and jam.
Principal Greg Watson says the breakfast club is a good connecting point with students and makes the teenagers less irritable throughout the day.
The school is so pleased with the benefits that it already holds breakfast five days a week, largely out of its own pocket.
‘‘It’s like operating a dairy, people won’t go there if they can’t be sure it’s open.’’
He says the extra funding will be a fantastic help to what the school is doing.
‘‘It’s something we consider as an important aspect for some of our students and we will greatly welcome any support we can get.’’
Lobby group Auckland Action Against Poverty says the limited expansion of the KickStart programme is a ‘‘token gesture’’.
‘‘Committing less than $2m 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.’’
Epsom MP 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.
‘‘What we shouldn’t do is shift responsibility away from parents to government.’’
In addition to the $9.5m to KickStart, the Government is granting $1.5m over three years to KidsCan for its clothing and healthcare programmes.