Whānau, kura kaupapa band together to keep tamariki fed

By Mahina Hurkmans

Kaiako from a Bay of Plenty kura kaupapa are worried about the number of kids going to school hungry since the lockdown ended. Families of students from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Orini ki Ngāti Awa have donated meat to assist the school in providing meals.

Kaiako Jade McCorkindale says, "We are starting to see more kids are coming to school hungry because of the difficulties that the COVID-19 lockdown has had on their families." 

The government promised to spend $220 million on the free school lunch programme, feeding an additional 200,000 children.

But principal Taiarahia Melbourne says everyone can help make a difference. 

"It is not only the job of the government to support us." 

To ease the pressures on families the school decided to supply breakfast and lunch each day to their students. 

"Some of our families are struggling with sudden job losses, so we thought as a school board that since we have some available funds we are able to help ease the load on these families by providing meals for our students," Taiarahia explains.  "Because we all know when the kids are fed, they listen better in class." 

KidsCan is supporting the project but families have also banded together to support the cause.  

Taiarahia adds, "No matter how small the amount is that we receive the main focus is to support the families of our students through the hard times. One of our teachers has a farm, has pigs and donated a pig to us as well." 

Kaiako say it's not a topic parents are proud to discuss but believe it's a real issue worth highlighting to bring about change. 

"There have been many messages of gratitude from our parents because they know that their children are getting fed and cared for here at school," McCorkindale says.

While the coronavirus pandemic has hit families hard, this community is making sure their students have a full stomach at school.