In an ideal world all parents would take responsibility for looking after their children.
In a less than ideal world, there are times someone else has to help, for the children’s sakes.
The KickStart breakfast programme is a partnership between government, business and charity which is a good mix.
Prime Minister John Key today announced Government funding to expand Fonterra and Sanitarium’s KickStart Breakfast programme, and a grant to KidsCan to boost a variety of the charity’s initiatives.
“By teaming up with Fonterra and Sanitarium, and deepening our support for KidsCan, we are building on the existing strengths of these organisations, while keeping the costs to taxpayers down,” says Mr Key.
“The most enduring solutions to help vulnerable children and families happen when communities are stepping up – not just government.” . . .
The government should be the last resort, and initiatives like this usually work best when they start with communities helping themselves.
It would however, be better if there was no need for this sort of assistance.
“I’d like to make one thing clear – the Government believes parents have the primary responsibility for providing their kids with the basics, including a decent breakfast and a pair of shoes.
“But the fact remains that some children are going to school hungry and therefore not in good shape to learn.” . . .
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett reinforces that point:
“Parents are responsible for feeding their children. But we can’t ignore the fact that some children turn up hungry and can’t learn on an empty stomach.”
“We don’t want to replace parental responsibility, but the Government, community, non-government organisations and business partners all have a shared responsibility for children,” says Mrs Bennett. . .
The policy has been criticised from the right for going too far and from the left for not going far enough.
John Banks says the food in schools programme is a band-aid that won’t fix the problem.
. . . “Rather than create a new welfare scheme, we should be looking at why kids are going to school hungry. We should then look closely at the assistance already in place.
“What we shouldn’t do is shift responsibility away from parents to government. This will only have negative and unintended consequences, and evidence has shown that food in school programmes are not effective.” . . .
I have some sympathy with that view but if parents let their children down, do we turn a blind eye?
Children are going to school hungry, people understandably don’t think this is acceptable and even though research shows it might not make a difference, they want action.
At least this initiative is voluntary – schools can opt in or not, and children can choose to eat the food which is offered, or not.
That should minimise waste and ensure the children whose parents let them down can have breakfast if they want it.