Calls for govt central fund to address child Poverty

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

The general manager of Feed the Need is calling on the government to establish a central school food programme fund to address Child Poverty.

The food in schools advocate Laurie Wharemate-Keung has been honoured with the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to children.

Wharemate Keung says with humble soup and bread they are feeds young minds and their future.

“Our kids, especially those who are struggling have a kai at school to help them with their education and learning and really my hope is that all these kids can reach their potential,” she says.

The latest Child Poverty report shows the need is dire with approximately 190, 000 kiwi kids unsure about the next meal.

“Over 70 percent of other OECD countries have a school food programme in place. And we feel it's really important for New Zealand to have that in place too.”

Wharemate Keung says without that sustainability of funding it's really just an ad-hoc kind of solution to a big problem around food insecurity.”

She has experienced first-hand the stigma attached to food insecurity, which is the drive behind supporting Feed the Need when it was established in 2012.

“My parents both worked really, really hard but there were times where we had no kai just because it's really difficult depending on your financial circumstance.”

“So I experienced hunger at school and at home, but the pain and I guess the emotion is really attached to not having kai at school.”

Over those seven years Feed the Need have provided hot lunches to 3,000 kids within seven South Auckland schools during the winter months. Now they will establish Food Pantries.

“It's like a mini food bank within a school where kids and whānau who need emergency kai can access it easily within their school community without having to go further to food banks.”

Pātaka kai will begin in the first school term at Rongomai Primary and Wymondley Road School in Otara, South Auckland.