COMMENT by Tim Dower

You might have heard stuff from KidsCan yesterday, talking about the vast number of children turning up to school hungry.

KidsCan is the charity best-known for providing breakfasts in low-decile schools.

But it fund-raises for other things that should be provided by parents, including clothing and even healthcare.

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KidsCan says one in five children at low-decile schools will begin the new school year hungry.

It's operating in more than 700 schools and says around 30,000 children a week will be getting help this year.

Some start the week with enough, but as the days go on the food tends to run out.

KidsCan says providing food is an investment in a child's future, and gives them the ability to get the most out of what's on offer in the classroom.

And that's all very laudable - there are some big name commercial sponsors and a lot of private individuals involved - and I want to say good on them.

But I can't help asking where the hell the parents are in all this?

And what message do we send when we step in and take over a job that truly is the responsibility of parents?

And if we take that responsibility away from the parents are we giving them the idea they don't need to feed their kids or put shoes on their feet?

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It's OK: someone else will step in and do it.

There's been a lot of angry talkback about this and I really get where it's coming from.

And I don't get how a parent can be so neglectful.

When kids come into your family, don't they automatically take top priority - isn't it your instinct to put their needs ahead of your own?

And when you're struggling isn't it your instinct to look around you for help?

Look it's Monday, so let's come at this from a charitable perspective.

While I admire the sincerity of everyone involved with KidsCan what they're telling us about hungry children suggests to me that Parents Can't. Or won't?

And instead of this ambulance at the bottom of the cliff approach perhaps that's where we should be directing our energy.

Showing and helping them to do the right thing by their children.

* Tim Dower is a Newstalk ZB host.