“Who’s going to eat this for breakfast?” A slightly squished Irvine’s mince and cheese pie, still steaming from the warmer at the dairy, and a can of budget Coke is placed on the table.
A ripple of nervous laughter and furtive glances spread across the room.
The challenge is issued again: “Well? Get into it!”.
Awkward laughs come from a few of our students. Murupara hauora worker Memory Jenner, hands on hips, looks around at them, but there seem to be no takers.
“Why wouldn’t you?” she asks. “It’s kai and it only cost me three dollars on my way here!”
Some stumbling answers:
“Im still full from the slightly burnt butter chicken last night.”
“Is it gluten free? In case you didn’t know I’m gluten free!”
“My rugby coach said no pies!”
“It doesn’t even look like it was made fresh this morning.”
And the loudest, the most definite:
“You CAN”T have a pie for breakfast, its not even eight o’clock in the morning!”
“Ah, you see”, says Mem, “this is what the majority of our kids are having for breakfast everyday, a three dollar breakfast combo, so welcome to our world! What do you think of that?!”
While shocking, it came as no surprise to see John Campbell's report on the comparison of school lunches between decile one and decile ten schools. A decile ten classroom with nineteen students showed that all had had breakfast that morning, and all had brought a nutritious lunch to school. However the same could not be said for the twenty six students of the decile one classroom. Only eleven children had lunch that day, less than half the class.
Sadly, this is not a John Campbell beat-up: we see this ourselves in some of the partner communities we visit —- hungry youngsters jumping out of the van into kura in the morning, loading up their bowls on Kidscan-sponsored Weetbix, sugar and milk spilling everywhere as it is gulped down, and a few chucked in school bags to take home later. Even in our own schools—- do we know how many of our own students come to school hungry? And what to do about it?
We’ve probably heard it before:
“It’s parents’ job to feed their kids!”
“Maybe they just couldn’t be bothered!”
“Why should our tax dollars have to go to that?!”
And just recently our parliament rejected a bill proposing free breakfast and lunches at decile one and two schools. Maybe there’s a hope that removing the decile system will help the problem to go away too.
Starting the day with a three dollar combo…or not even that. Obesity and diabetes further down the track…
Hungry tummies starving young minds…
For more information about John Campbell's report click here.