Close to half of Kiwi kids sent hungry to school will soon be receiving free food, a children's charity says.
KidsCan Charitable Trust will soon be providing free food to about 7000 needy children a day - 2500 more than are fed now.
The increase comes after supporter Tip Top announced last night that it would increase its donation from 30,000 loaves to about 100,000 a year.
The KidsCan Food for Kids scheme is run in 276 low-decile primary and intermediate schools.
Children who are identified as needy get three food items a day from a list including toast, baked beans and fruit.
Raincoats, shoes and socks are also provided.
KidsCan founder Julie Chapman said the goal was to feed all children in decile one to four primary and intermediate schools that need food - up to 17,000 children a day, or a cost of around $4.5 million a year.
The Government has said it is open to considering a national food strategy for low-decile schools as proposed by experts appointed by Children's Commissioner Russell Wills.
Ms Chapman said she hoped the Government would increase its support of KidsCan from $150,000 a year to around $1.7 million.
Contributions from private businesses such as George Weston Foods, owner of the Tip Top bakery brand, and the public could cover the remainder needed, she said.
More than 4000 people are giving $15 a month (50c a day) after signing up to the KidsCan In Our Own Backyard programme.
Waterview Primary School is in its sixth year with a KidsCan programme. Principal Brett Skeen said the donated food, shoes and raincoats made a real difference to the children who got them.
"We used to have a problem with the odd lunch going missing. And when we tracked back it was because children didn't have lunch.
"We've also taught the children to make their own sandwiches."
Donations to kidscan.org.nzBy Nicholas Jones Email Nicholas