Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Food in schools - non-culpability creep

The Prime Minister has confirmed that National will be extending food in schools programmes. He knows there is discomfit about this amongst his constituency but, according to the NZ Herald says,

 "...if the child is not fed ... we know they don't learn...In the end they are a victim, they may well be a 6- or 7-year-old victim that can't stand up for themselves so we have some responsibility to do something about that."
Yet a Auckland University study undertaken across 14 low socio-economic schools where children received free school breakfasts organised through Red Cross or the private sector found,

 "A free school breakfast did not have a significant effect on New Zealand children's school attendance, academic achievement, self-reported grades, sense of belonging at school, behaviour or food security. However the programme had significant positive effects on children's short-term hunger ratings. More frequent programme attendance may be required to influence school attendance and academic achievement."

Sounds familiar. The policy isn't working because we aren't doing enough of it. I'm not buying it. And speaking of buying....

.... these are the payment rates for Family Tax Credits received by beneficiaries specifically for the care of their children:

Category Amount per week
First or only child, 0 - 15 years $92.73
First or only child, 16 years or older $101.98
Second or subsequent child, 0 - 12 years $64.44
Second or subsequent child, 13 - 15 years $73.50
Second or subsequent child, 16 years or older $91.25

A box of Homebrand Cornflakes costs $2.39

A loaf of Signature range wholemeal toast bread is $2.49

500g Anchor butter $3.89

2L Signature milk $3.79

That's shopping at Countdown, not the cheapest, but should feed one child breakfast easily. That's 13.5% of the 'first and only' child payment.

The minute anyone disagrees with the 'feed the children in schools' policy they are put into the non-caring, greedy corner.

But I won't accept that characterisation.

Every time we cede to non-culpability creep we actually make the overall situation and outlook for children bleaker. If we fail to ask for parental responsibility, we won't get it. And the fall-out from non-responsibility manifests in far worse ways than hungry children and at times when nobody else is available to step in and fill the void.


macdoctor said...

The ONLY place where food in schools has been shown to make a significant difference to educational outcomes is in third world countries where kids are truly malnourished as opposed to merely hungry.

CorrectGuy said...

What I can't stomach is that we have the PM, MSD minister and other lumnaries waxing on that they "know" its the parent's responsibility to feed their kids and then doing nothing about it!!!

Any kid turns up at school and says they weren't fed by their parent(s), instant notification to CYF to investigate home situation and force, yes force, parent(s) to purchase food, take the damn benefit of them and have a delivery of food sent instead.

Once I would have railed against state interference in people's lives like I've just proposed, but there are so many bloody ferals that can't even feed their kids, that I've come round to this way of thinking.

It makes me sick that we lack a single politician in this country that won't stand up that most simple principle.

Oswald Bastable said...

It will be lunches in schools on our dollar next- mark my word!


This whole blog plus the comments run counter to the article in Saturday's (01 June) Herald about the work of Steve Farrelly and also the evidence that came out of Jamie's School lunches revolution where not only the teachers attested to improved attention and learning in the afternoon session but the school nurse attested to the dramatic reduction in the child sickbay attendance for use of inhalers or for minor sickness during afternoon school.

Anonymous said...

You feed kids breakfast because their parent simply doesn't care enough to buy a loaf of bread for her kids -and then those kids grow up and have kids and don't buy bread for their kids either -because that's the school's job not theirs. School breakfasts entrench generational parental neglect.