A programme to deliver lunch food to 2000 schoolchildren in poor households during lockdown is turning to the public for support after requests to the government were met with silence.
Eat My Lunch founder Lisa King said the programme normally delivers lunches to 77 low-decile schools in Auckland and Wellington, but the lunches are usually funded by selling lunches to corporates.
"That died overnight," King said, of the consequences of the lockdown.
"With schools being closed, we are delivering the food boxes to 2000 individual homes."
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King said she made funding requests to the Ministers of Education and Civil Defence, but has heard nothing back.
Those offices of those Ministers, Chris Hipkins and Peeni Henare, have been contacted for comment.
King estimated it would cost about $160,000 over the lockdown period, and Foodstuffs had already generously contributed $100,000.
Eat My Lunch has now started a Givealittle page to raise the additional $60,000; as of this morning, it had raised more than $22,000.
"We've had green light to be an essential service for the social sector but we haven't received any feedback around funding.
"We couldn't wait. This is already week two. We didn't want the kids to go any longer without."
Kidscan also seeking public support
Kidscan chief executive Julie Chapman says Kidscan usually feeds about 30,000 children in more than 800 schools and early childhood education centres.
But as they are closed during the lockdown, Kidscan decided to send two-week food parcels to the 3300 most vulnerable families who live in remote areas such as Northland, Gisborne and parts of the Bay of Plenty.
"Each parcel will be shipped directly to families most in need at this time, the families of children we would normally support at school," Chapman told the Herald.
The Kidscan parcels are meant to feed a family of five, and the delivery of 132 tonnes of food will begin in the coming days.
But Chapman said it had put a strain on the charity's finances.
Kidscan is asking people to donate $19 to the cause, and has thanked Cookie Time for kicking off the donation campaign with a $19,000 donation.
Chapman said Kidscan is in discussions with the Ministry of Social Development about extra funding for when children return to school.
"With people losing jobs and having less income, the number of children who need our support is going to rise from 30,000 a day to over 40,000.
"That's a massive increase of families in need. Coupled with the fact our fundraising events have been cancelled, it leaves a funding gap for us as a charity."
Auckland Central and National MP Nikki Kaye has been pushing the case for more Government funding for Eat My Lunch and Kidscan.
"I would have thought a major priority for this Government would have been to absolutely ensure that those children are getting food assistance.
"Unfortunately Eat My Lunch and Kidscan haven't got funding as yet from the Government. I don't think that's good enough."
The Eat My Lunch weekly food packs will start being delivered tomorrow and will include milk provided by Fonterra.
It will also have science worksheet prepared by Nanogirl Michelle Dickinson.
King said the worksheet was important as many of the children did not have access to digital devices or online learning.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that inequities in the education sector were being worked through, and an announcement to improve lockdown learning may be announced this week.
King said many of the lunches the programme was providing were to decile 1 and 2 schools.
"For many, the lunch these kids were getting at school was the only food they were getting during the day. That's why it's been on our minds of how we deliver to their homes."