Charitable Trust KidsCan is set to assist a further 17 low decile schools, providing 1500 children with food, raincoats, shoes and basic health and hygiene items.
Over the past year, KidsCan has expanded its programme to 100 more schools thanks to an increase in donor support.
KidsCan programmes are now provided in 58% of all decile 1-4 primary, intermediate and high schools in New Zealand, including 75% of all decile 1 schools and 72% of all decile 2 schools.
The charity is seeing a constant increase in the need for the support it provides to children living with hardship. Four years ago the average number of children needing food support from KidsCan in lower decile schools was around 15% but has since risen to almost 25%.
When KidsCan surveyed its partner schools lst year, 75% reported the most common food issue they have is children arriving at school without having had breakfast and without any lunch for the day.
The top two issues include nutrition/hunger and head lice infestations, with oral hygiene and skin infections being third equal.
The Office of the Children's Commissioner in 2016 says there are still 295,000 kids in Aotearoa living in hardship, despite recent improvements in the economy. Of the families living in hardship 45% of children in income poverty are in households where the main income is paid employment and income poverty has doubled from 14% in 1982 to 28% today. Approximately 155,000 New Zealand kids live in households that go without 7 or more things they need (material hardship), including going without adequate food, suitable shoes and clothing, sufficient heating and visits to the doctor.
KidsCan CEO and Founder Julie Chapman says, “We all have a responsibility to ensure our communities and the children in them can thrive and have the chance to grow into contributing members of society. I think most New Zealanders’ would agree that it’s not okay that so many of our children are going hungry and without the basics through no fault of their own.”
The current KidsCan ‘Food for Kids’ programme assists more than 21,000 children a week, through funding from Government, individual donors, Trusts and Foundations, Corporate Partners and Principal Partner Meridian Energy.
The support of its donors has enabled the charity to distribute 17,422,619 food items, 250,309 raincoats, 114,749 pairs of shoes, 229,558 pairs of socks, and 351,044 health and hygiene products since KidsCan began in 2005 and the KidsCan Nit Buster programme which treats head lice in 110 schools has performed 65,093 head lice checks and 28,000 treatments in the past two years.