Wednesday, August 3, 2011


"At least three quarters of New Zealand's low-income primary and intermediate schools have joined charitable schemes to feed pupils.
A Herald survey has found many schools have signed up with several charities to cover breakfast and other food needs during the day.
All primary and intermediate schools in the lowest fifth of schools are also eligible to get at least one piece of fruit a day for every student under the government $12million Fruit in Schools scheme.
The Ministry of Health says only 12 of the 496 eligible schools have declined to accept fruit.
But a few schools have stayed out of the schemes, or limited their involvement, because they do not want to undermine parental responsibility.
Some schools have provided breakfast - or lunch for children  who come to school without food to eat - through churches and volunteers at least since the 1990's.
 The first nationwide program was KidsCan, founded in 2005 by a former sponsorship executive for the Warehouse, Julie Helson. It provides muesli bars, fruit pottles, raisins, bread and spreads through teachers to 20,000 children each week in 189 decile 1 - 4 schools. . . .
The principal of decile 1 Bairds Mainfreight School in Otara, Alan Lyth, said his school decided not to run breakfast programs and gave out KidsCan food to an average of less then one of its 370 students a day, because all the students received fruit and he did not want to completely take over the parent's role."

In the same week as this NZ Herald article, NZ TVOne program "Close-up" ran the story of Monica Tigifagu, mum to 6 kids, with 4 different fathers. Monica is on the Domestic Purposes Benefit for solo parents, after paying her bills, she said she often had just $80 a week left to spend on food. The cupboards and fridge were bare of food except for bread, margarine and peanut butter. This is what the family ate for lunch the day of the interview. 
Monica, smoking her cigarette while chatting with interviewer Mark Crysell outside, was asked if she thought it fair that she smoked when her family were so hard pressed for food? She answered that she needed cigarettes to cope. Monica said she encouraged her children with their education because she didn't want them as adults to have to live as she lived now.

Children who are hungry. Children going without a meal, even a day's worth of meals. None of this is new and is certainly not restricted to New Zealand and the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century! There has always been the poor and hungry! There has been examples of support for the hungry of various kinds in different cultures. 
In ancient middle eastern cultures there was a wonderful practice, that the margins of a cropped field at harvest time were left free for the poor and hungry to 'help themselves'. It was willingly available for them. Yes they needed to come to the field, do the picking, carrying, grinding or whatever - themselves, but the produce was then all theirs to live on.
The organization Oxfam, say they don't like to give food to the hungry. "We'd sooner help them grow it. For example, seven years of drought  on the southern edge of the Sahara have destroyed the way of life of the Tuareg herdsmen, forcing thousands into the towns to queue for relief food. For a small number Oxfam has found an answer. At Tchirozerine in Niger, hungry people have been shown how to make the best use of water resources to improve their pasture and grow new crops. Already the results have been dramamtic. But the task in the whole area is huge......"
What a radically, different approach these two examples are, compared to the two at the start of the post!
The KidsCan and the DPB family style, STYLE 1, is that parents with little effort or involvement, have the food provided for them and for their hungry children.
Whereas the ancient Hebrew and Oxfam style, STYLE 2, is that parents are involved, equipped, trained and assisted to work at responsibly themselves providing the food for their hungry children. The people of the simpler cultures here seem to be getting the better deal - a future with hope.
Both systems have costs  ~
                                                * The first group, STYLE 1, depends on the government providing through benefits directly to the parents, or to the school along with financial support from businesses and organizations. But with little or no cost to the parents at all.
                                                * The second group, STYLE 2, depends on the government, along with businesses and organizations, putting finance into setting-up schemes of practical self-help solutions. This involves commitment and effort from the parents, resulting in a change of lifestyle and possible graduation out of the hunger cycle.
What could a self-help scheme look like?
Being a Charlotte Mason advocate, I believe it must start with conversations, possibly through a DVD, convincing the parents of hungry children, that they have a say in their children's future. By parents remaining in STYLE 1 mode, the probability of their grand-children going on in the future to also be hungry, is extremely high. However, if they chose to commit to a STYLE 2 lifestyle and be involved in a practical self-help scheme, there was a high probability their grand-children in the future would not be troubled with being hungry.
Next, the scheme would need to deal with the immediate, by teaching parents and children of 13 years and older, to be able to prepare a weeks worth of nutritious yet economical meals for all the family. Starting with how to make porridge, soup from cheap seasonal vegetables, protein and fibre rich dinners, desserts and baking.
If organizations, businesses and the government are happy to pitch-in with a STYLE 1 method, I think they'd be ecstatic to be involved with a STYLE 2 self-help solution for the hungry.
Thirdly, there should be training for parents and children 16 years and older in the following areas ~
                                          #  successfully living frugally
                                          #  managing one's finances
                                          #  starting and successfully working a home-based 
                                          #  preparation for getting a job in various industries
                                          #  preparation to study for a qualification
                                          #  encouraging good family dynamics towards
                                                    working as a team
This would really establish a changed lifestyle, habits of thinking and effect a future of hope.
I like Alan Lyth's comment, from Baird's Mainfreight School in Otara, "he didn't want to completely take over the parent's role."
But this is exactly the road the media and others are steering us down with the escalation of free hand outs!

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Parents, take responsibility for caring for your children, responsibility for feeding your children. Stop letting the State or an organization do-it-all for us. If we want our kids to responsibly care for their kids, we need to live responsibly today.


  1. Hi :)

    Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog. Sometimes I feel so ignorant when it comes to this topic you are addressing. I know what it is like to struggle to get a decent lunch in the kids school bags yet I cannot even fathom sending them off with no lunch. We live in an area of very high decile public schools and I doubt this kind of thing is common here. Thankyou for writing this. I love the ideas of teaching them young how to prepare meals on a budget. My heart goes out to those hungry kids :( Something definately needs to be done!

  2. Thank you Widge. It's nice to meet another New Zealand blogger. I love your honesty about who you are in your profile. LOVE your photography!