Far North principal Sacha Williams knows how much pressure KidsCan removes from whānau.
The charity supplies her kura – Oturu School – with breakfast, fruit and lunch ensuring tamariki are fed and their whānau don't have to worry about them going hungry.
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And while schools have been closed the last four weeks due to the Covid-19 lockdown; KidsCan have continued supporting families from the school, sending about 30 packages out to whānau in need.
"We sent so many movies and videos and thank you notes back to KidsCan. But there was huge excitement, especially from the whānau that didn't know they were getting it because they were nominated," Williams said.
Oturu School is a decile one school in Kaitaia. Williams said about 50 per cent of the children get breakfast and lunch during the school day, and on Fridays they get extra. So when level 4 lockdown was announced four weeks ago, she became concerned.
"My food worry changed a little bit. I've always worried about my parents on a benefit, or my grandparents. But now, my biggest concern is for my whānau who were working families and now get $450 a week.
"You think we live in Kaitaia so we have low rent – we don't. Our rents are like $350 for a very very simple house, and there goes your entire amount of money that you're getting. We've got families that were stretched before, and now they can't even pay bills."
Williams said the day after the lockdown was announced, staff raided the school pantry and garden for kai and left it on a bench for families to take. She said the food provided by KidsCan removed huge amounts of pressure from whānau.
"A long time ago you'd ring up and say 'why isn't so and so at school' and a very common excuse would be 'I'm really sorry, I've got no food' and when we enrol children now we say you can send food with your kids, that's fantastic, but we will give them food throughout the day."
Oturu School is not the only kura which has expressed concern for families. KidsCan said it is seeing unprecedented demand for help. The charity usually helps feed 34,000 children a day across schools and early childhood centres nationwide. For term two, schools have ordered food for nearly 42,000 children.
And with its usual fundraising events off the cards, the charity launched an urgent appeal to fund 3000 food parcels for isolated families. Their goal was to raise $500,000 but they quickly reached that target and now have raised more than $1 million.
"We know times are tough for everyone, but we want people to imagine how scary this is when you live in poverty. These families already lived week to week. Now, many have lost their jobs and they have no buffer. We need to come together so they and their kids don't go hungry. Any donation, big or small, will make a difference," KidsCan chief executive Julie Chapman said.
Each of the KidsCan food parcels provide food and essential items to help support a household of five for two weeks. It includes 3kg of rice, 3kg of pasta, pasta sauce, bread, heat and eat meals, fruit cups, baked beans, peanut butter, muesli bars, fruit salad, tissues, hand wash - and even Easter eggs.
Williams said whānau were "so excited" to receive a package.
"One of my mums said to me that she got a knock on the door and the courier said 'we've got these boxes for you' and she said 'I don't know if they're for me' and he said 'is your name such and such' and she said yes. She kept thinking this is not right. But she was just elated."
If you would like to donate to KidsCan visit www.19for19.co.nz