Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

PM: Govt help for hungry kids would be targeted

Food programmes for hungry Kiwi schoolchildren may soon get a boost from the Government. Photo / APN
Food programmes for hungry Kiwi schoolchildren may soon get a boost from the Government. Photo / APN

Prime Minister John Key says the Government will support hungry New Zealand schoolchildren if it needs to, but the problem is not as wide as some might suggest and help would be highly targeted.

His comments today come after Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said he was "quite open'' to considering a national food strategy for low-decile schools, which is among the proposals of an expert group appointed by Children's Commissioner Russell Wills.

Mr Key said the Government had for a long time been actively engaged in making sure children were fed at school.

He pointed to the Government's contribution to food charity KidsCan, the extension of the fruit in schools programme and its encouragement of the private sector, such as Fonterra's milk in schools programme.

"We assist schools where we can, and generally the feedback I get from schools is that while there are some children that clearly need support and some kids that will go to a breakfast programme, it's not every child and it's not every school,'' he said.

Mr Key said the money was highly targeted to low-decile schools.

A survey in 2007 showed 97 per cent of children went to school having had breakfast and also had lunch.

"So yes, there are some kids we've got to make sure we look after, and if the Government needs to support those kids we will. But again, I think it's more narrowly defined than some people might argue.''

Labour leader David Shearer yesterday said the Government had dismissed Labour's proposal to provide breakfast for hungry school kids at low-decile primary schools, but it was great to see a concession.

Child welfare group Every Child Counts welcomed news the Government was considering a national strategy, saying their was a need to mitigate the impacts of poverty and then deal with the causes.

- NZ Herald

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