Feeding children a must
Kapiti children are no exception to poverty, says Kapiti Primary School principal Graham Conner.
The Kapiti Observer asked three principals whether they thought children were going hungry, following the announcement of Labour's new education policy, which plans to put food in all decile one to three primary and intermediate schools at a cost of up to $20 million.
Kapiti Primary School already receives food supplies once a term from charity KidsCan, which provide food to more than 200 New Zealand decile one to three schools.
Although Kapiti is decile five, four times a year it receives muesli bars, packets of raisins, fruit salad and porridge sachets, to give to children if they ask.
Principal Graham Conner said he believed it was 100 per cent parents' responsibility to feed their children, but that did not mean there were not children going hungry.
''The perception is that Kapiti Coast is a very rich area, but from a principal's perspective and a child's perspective, there are plenty of children here from all our schools that need our additional support.''
Mr Conner said it is up to each school to access agencies that can help.
''Here at Kapiti School we're just absolutely determined to try and make it a level playing field, get the best results we can for our children with all these supporting agencies.''
Waitohu School in Otaki, a decile four school, has no programmes in place to support hungry children, relying on a limited supply of food purchased by the school, if children are in need.
Principal Maine Curtis said he was not interested in finding out how many students were skipping breakfast, if he could not improve the situation.
''There would be families at Waitohu School who would benefit from provisional lunches [but] schools are not given provision to provide food support for families.''
He said providing food for children is one strategy to help.
''Other strategies could be having high employment, so parents are at work; having a child-based support that come to families.''
St Peter Chanel Catholic School in Otaki believes it takes a village to raise a child.
The decile three school, offers a ''breakfast club'' and a healthy eating programme sponsored by Otaki Rotary Club.
Principal Maia Williams has no problem with students who ask for food, ''it's about kick-starting our day with a good healthy breakfast''.
Unable to comment on numbers of students going without breakfast, she said the programmes in place are well used by parents, teachers, families, and students.
''[Parents] just ring up and say, 'hey look, child's got up late, they're running to catch the bus, is it okay if they can have something there to eat?'
''Yes, it's always fine. We don't utilise it as a means to address poverty, we utilise it as a means to be supportive in having children come to school.''
Ms Williams said she is unsure about Labour's plan to provide food, but if there is a need for it ''it certainly isn't a bad idea''