160,000 kids live without access to enough kai

By Regan Paranihi

This year's Child Poverty Monitor has found that more than 160,000 kids in Aotearoa are living in households without access to enough food or enough healthy food.

CEO Julie Chapman says the number of families battling material hardship seems to be increasing and KidsCan’s data shows that 20 percent of students, from decile 1 to 4 schools, experience food insecurity.

“We’re feeding more than 30,000 kids a week. Principals are telling us that without the support of KidsCan, KickStart Breakfast, and Fruit In Schools, many kids wouldn’t make it to class each day.”

Chapman says food, shoes, and raincoats were the only items KidsCan was offering when they started out 13 years ago, however, due to the high cost of housing they now provide essentials like feminine hygiene products and nit products.

“We’re seeing an erosion of people’s ability to afford the basics. And a lot of that is down to the high cost of housing.”

Tamatea High School principal Robin Fabish says housing is one issue putting pressure on the budgets of families in his community. He asked for KidsCan help a year ago, after noticing behavioral issues due to hunger.

“It’s hard for kids to concentrate in the morning if they’ve got empty stomachs. Sometimes kids are just angry. It’s easy for them to get upset over small things when they’re hungry.” 

He says KidsCan support has made a major difference for the school as many kids, after having a decent meal, feel a lot happier.

“We know that if we can get kids to school, we can support them to get a good qualification and to develop a strong pathway.  We’ve got some good results this year so we’re really pleased about that. Every little thing we can do makes a difference.”

Chapman says the Government is working on ways to make a difference, however, they cannot do it alone.

“I don’t think anyone in New Zealand wants a society where a child’s success is determined by how wealthy their parents are,”

Kiwis can sign up to support children in hardship at www.kidscan.org.nz. $20 a month gives a child food, shoes, a jacket, and health items, giving them the same opportunities as other kids.