Family First NZ is rejecting calls for more government funding for school breakfast clubs, warning that this will simply exacerbate the problem and ignore the underlying causes.
“A child whose parents cannot even provide two pieces of toast in the morning or a bowl of porridge highlights a number of real concerns,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Firstly, if the children aren’t being fed breakfast, how do we know that they are receiving meals at night or during the weekend? The level of neglect may be far greater than just providing breakfasts and other basic meals.”
“Secondly, there is a welfare system in New Zealand. Every home has a source of income. The important question is – what is the money being spent on, and is that appropriate? Are they receiving their correct entitlement? And in the case of welfare payments, will food vouchers solve part of the problem?”
“Pressuring governments and companies to fund breakfast clubs is a short-term bandage for a much more serious and longer-term illness. It also creates a dependence on a service which may not always be able to be provided.”
“The best investment by the government would be to provide budgeting advice and support for families who are struggling, including education on healthy eating and cooking skills. Where there is genuine financial need – and there are sure to be genuine cases out there – WINZ should play a role so that we start to understand the extent of the problem,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Schools are providing an important stop-gap measure which is to be admired, but the greater issue is – is it solving the problem long-term.”
“Children should not be punished by having parents who are failing to fulfil a basic parenting role. The danger is that we are simply rewarding bad parenting.”