Our hungry kids: Free bagels put a ring around school hunger

By Jordyn O'Shea

Dawson School students Harlem Phillips (left) and Dominic Kautapa Manuka tuck into their bagels donated by Abe's. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Dawson School students Harlem Phillips (left) and Dominic Kautapa Manuka tuck into their bagels donated by Abe's. Photo / Sarah Ivey

An Auckland business is doing its part to stop kids going hungry at school.

Abe's Bagels has been delivering free bagels to decile 1 schools since 2004.

Owner Megan Sargent said she started because she knew there was a need for food at schools in poorer areas.

She began giving bagels to children at the Southern Cross Campus school in Mangere after realising a large number of students came to class without eating breakfast.

"And it just grew from there," she said.

The company now feeds children in 27 schools around Auckland, including Otara's Dawson Primary.

Bagels are delivered to the school twice a week and are handed out in classrooms.

Teacher Jenny Wards said the children got excited on "bagel days" but were much calmer after they had eaten.

"There are some kids who don't have much food in their lunchbox so a bagel makes all the difference."

Six-year-old Eden Mclean said she loved getting a bagel.

"It's yummy and it helps us learn plusses and takeaways and times tables.

"It makes our brain work better and that's cool 'cause you can go to college when you grow up," Eden said.

Dawson School started receiving bagels last year after being approached by Abe's.

Principal Angela Funaki wanted bagels only once or twice a week rather than providing breakfast every morning.

She said she would not give food to the same children every day because she did not want families to become dependent on school-provided meals.

"My view is it's a parental responsibility. Yes, we will help in times of difficulty because we don't want children to be hungry, but we will then source someone else to help the families out."

Mr Funaki agreed there was a fine line between helping too much and not helping enough. "The bagels are great though. The teachers have noticed a difference when the children have them."

Ms Sargent said she frequently got letters from school boards saying how much the bagels helped.

She is encouraging other businesses to do what they can to help children in New Zealand, rather than donating overseas.

"People just don't realise how bad it is here," she said. "Kids can't concentrate if they're hungry, and that's a tragedy."

- NZ Herald

What you can do

Sponsor a hungry child for 50c a day.
(to help provide the basics they're missing out on.)

Donate to Salvation Army food banks.

Donate to Auckland City Mission winter appeal.
(you can text help to 305 to instantly donate $3.)

Use your business or community group to feed hungry kids in your local school or community.

Auckland City Mission Logo Salvation Army Logo KidsCan Logo
Our hungry kids: go to school without breakfast 17%. Households with children which run out of food 22%. Households with children which use food banks 10%.

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