Monday, May 13, 2013

No gains in learning or behaviour for children fed breakfast in school

Thanks to a reader who sent me a link to a presentation about evaluation research into the programme that already exists to feed children in schools:

  Programme led to a significant decrease in
•  No effect on other outcomes measured
(attendance, learning, behaviour, food
•  Participation in programme less than expected
– ranged from 5-79% but on average students
attended ~30% of the time (dilution effect)
•  Rather than increasing breakfast consumption
overall many children who previously ate
breakfast at home appeared to swap location
(substitution effect)

So again I'm left asking the same question (spurred by a different reason) as yesterday. Why a 'Feed the kids' bill now?


thor42 said...

Exactly, Lindsay.

Like everything else that the Left suggests, this is yet another well-intentioned but stupid idea.

JC said...

Nothing wrong with the idea of school breakfasts and lunches.. you provide plenty of good quality food and charge the full cost to the child/parents. Any families on benefits get the full cost of the food deducted from benefits.

In fact, if its such a good idea to provide such food there's an even better rationale to provide dinner at 3.30pm and charge the families for a solid roast.

I've already supplied fair enough evidence that food is a fraction of household costs these days so charging the full costs of the meals or reducing benefits is a minor issue.


Brendan McNeill said...

I suspect that children who are regularly denied breakfast at home before going to school are often overwhelmed by an ocean of dysfunction at home, including abuse ranging from basic neglect through to physical and sexual violence.

Not having breakfast is probably the least of the problems facing these kids. Perhaps many are only too keen to escape from the house before the adult(s) surface to worry about food.

In 2011 there were 21,000 confirmed cases of child abuse in NZ, 83% of which was committed by welfare beneficiaries, many of whom I suspect would be the same ones who don't have the energy or desire to feed their kids before school.

You cannot fix this kind of dysfunction with ever increasing State intervention.

Bob said...

I note that NZ kids have the worst sleep patterns compared to other countries.
Perhaps we should have a beds-in-school programme :-)

Lindsay Mitchell said...

JC, In which case the cost could be deducted from the individual Family Tax Credit payments that beneficiary and non-beneficiary families receive specifically to meet the needs of their children.

(In respect of beneficiaries, FTC used to be Family Support. It's something of a misnomer when it comes to people who don't effectively pay any tax. Revenue collected through taxation is treated as a pool of money into which some pay a debit and some get a credit regardless of contribution status. The term Family Tax Credit replaced Family Support to bring it into line with the WFF package).

Could be difficult to administer. But any food at schools programme will have to come out of the education budget otherwise. Something else will have to be sacrificed. $100 million (Mana's est cost) represents around 2 percent of total primary school expenditure.

Brendan, I agree.

Allistar said...

This proposal is legitimising child abuse and protecting the perpetrators of said abuse. Not feeding your children is child abuse - it astounds me that the proposed solution is not to stop the abuse, but to help hide the abusers.

JC said...

"Could be difficult to administer. But any food at schools programme will have to come out of the education budget otherwise."

I think you'd put it with Winz.. its essentially a benefit for beneficiaries and the lower paid so it should slip into their assistance packages easily enough.
Also Winz is in the right position to evaluate the financial effects of the scheme on households.

Whilst technically a $2-3 meal equals a similar cut in benefit we know that in most cases the kids aren't being fed because food money is going on non essentials or loans and Winz might be the better agent to assess this.


tony m said...

Disagree slightly. We do have a problem with child neglect. We all pay for it when the neglected kids grow up.

I'm as libertarian as the next person who visits this site, but kids don't have a choice in their parents' politics. This is about the kids, not about the lousy parents. And it is about the outcomes of those kids in the years to come.

Feed the kids, with one condition. Tell the kids with signage in the "mess room" that tells the kids where the money comes from - i.e. the taxpayer, not as mana from heaven.

Then don't pay for it out of the education budget - out of the benefits payable to ALL the parents in the qualifying age range. So meet the cost by a $5 reduction in each benefit child supplement across the board for EVERY eligible beneficiary parent, whether or not they are participating in the school-trough.

So at the same time, these little leftie apprentices get the message that someone paid for their food, and that the someone is called "the taxpayer".

Got I hate socialism, but sometimes needs must.

James said...

Latest research shows that breakfast is overrated as a meal. People seem to get the best results from food a few hours after waking...around 11am while not feeling hungry first thing. Kids who were first fed around 11 with a high fat-low carb meal would be far better off and more alert during the day.

tony m said...

Sorry, Freudian slip above.

'Manna' from heaven, not 'mana' from Heaven. said...

okey, thanks for your information.