As back to school costs mount, families living in hardship are struggling to provide the essentials for their children.
KidsCan’s data shows that one in every five children in low-decile schools around New Zealand will head back to class this year without enough food to fuel them.
KidsCan’s CEO Julie Chapman says for families on the breadline, this time of year can be overwhelming.
“Every day they survive on very little. So there’s no money for new stationary, school bags or expensive uniforms – many don’t even know how they’ll afford to put food in their child’s lunch box.
“We know when parents feel ashamed that they can’t make ends meet, some don’t send their children to school. Those that do go, start on the back foot because they don’t have the right clothes, and they’re hungry.”
Julie says she is seeing no let-up in need, which is putting huge pressure on schools.
“One principal spent her holidays washing lost property to give to families who can’t afford uniforms. They’re doing so much more than teaching.
“Many schools have stopped asking for fees or donations, just to make sure they get kids in the door. But what they can offer in terms of equipment, extracurricular activities and class size suffers.”
KidsCan’s mission is to relieve pressure on both struggling families, and schools, by taking care of a child’s essentials for learning.
Last year’s Child Poverty Monitor found one in five New Zealand children – more than 160,000 kids – live in households without access to either enough food, or enough healthy food.
It highlighted the huge impact that poverty can have on a child’s chance of success. It found 68 percent of students from the most disadvantaged communities achieved NCEA level 2 in 2017, compared to 93 percent from the most advantaged communities.
More children need help. KidsCan is asking New Zealanders to help make a difference by signing up to support kids in need for as little as $20 a month.
“When kids are fed and warm, they’re ready to learn,” says Julie.
“When you level the playing field, it gives them the chance to succeed like any other child. Our aim is to keep kids in school, so they get great jobs which lift them out of poverty.”
• On average, the charity is now helping to feed 20 percent of the roll in the record 742 schools it supports.
• Over 30,000 children a day are fueled with food from KidsCan, including baked beans, bread, spreads, yoghurt, fruit pottles, scroggin, supergrain bars, and in winter, hot meals.
• Last year KidsCan gave out 5.27 million items of food including 245,000 servings of baked beans, more than 130,000 loaves of bread and 1.6 million packs of scroggin. The numbers were up 20 percent on 2017.
• In 2018 the charity clothed 47,350 kids in warm jackets, and distributed 27,886 new pairs of shoes and socks. Girls received 22,000 boxes of tampons, pads and liners.
• In five years, the number of schools supported by KidsCan has almost doubled, from 388 to 742.
• 90 percent of 461 principals surveyed by KidsCan last year believed the charity’s support helped to remove barriers for students, and improving attendance and participation.
People can donate at www.kidscan.org.nz