Ae Marika! 13 November 2012

Ae Marika! 13 November 2012

Posted on November 13, 2012 by admin in Ae Marika

Back in August I put my Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in School)

Amendment Bill into the ballot. Last week it got drawn which means that it
will go on the Order Paper and likely come before the house for
consideration in the next couple of months.

That’s quite a long-winded title, but it’s an issue I raised often during
the election campaign last year and on numerous occasions since – Feeding
the Kids.

The aim of the bill is to provide for state funded breakfasts and lunches in
all decile 1 and 2 schools (and other designated schools like Kura) in New
Zealand. Meals will be available free of charge, and will be required to
meet Ministry of Health nutritional guidelines.

The background to the bill is that growing levels of poverty in New Zealand
have resulted in too many parents being unable to afford to provide their
children with a proper breakfast before school and/or lunch at school.
Research conducted both here and overseas confirms the benefits to school
attendance, learning achievement, and health of children and young people
when nutritious meals are provided by schools.

Feeding kids in low decile schools has been recommended by both the Child
Poverty Action Group in their 2011 report Hunger for Learning: Nutritional
Barriers to Children’s Education and by the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert
Advisory Group on Child Poverty in its 2012 discussion paper Solutions to
Child Poverty in New Zealand, as a key measure to address child poverty.

That’s not to discourage the many charitable organisations, businesses, and
parent and school volunteers currently running or supporting food in schools
programmes – I sincerely hope that they continue providing nutritious meals
for students, and contributing to the success of the policy. What I hope to
add to those efforts is a measure of certainty to all students who attend
low decile schools that nutritious meals will be there for them.

Reliance on charity is often risky and uncertain, especially in times of
economic downturn.

I know that there are a lot of other factors affecting child poverty such as
housing, health, employment, income and family stability, but providing
solutions in those areas takes a long time. Feeding the Kids can happen as
soon as next term and it will have an immediate and positive impact on the
children, the families, the schools and wider society as well.

The support I have had since putting the bill into the ballot back in August
has been great – Labour has put in a similar bill, the Greens are supportive
of the kaupapa, as is the Maori Party (I think), Campbell Live has done an
excellent series on the issue, health promotion groups have backed it and
even National came close to admitting it was a good idea.

They say politics can be an ugly business, but I look forward to discussing
this bill with my parliamentary colleagues right across the house to see if
we can cobble together some genuine support for what is really a no brainer.

AE MARIKA is an article written every week by Hone Harawira, leader of the
MANA Movement and Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau. You are welcome
to use any of the comments and to ascribe them to Mr Harawira. The full
range of Hone’s articles can be found on the MANA website at