23 May 2011

Call to save school breakfast programme

12:08 pm on 23 May 2011

The Child Poverty Action Group is calling on the Government to step in and save the Red Cross school breakfast initiative after the supermarket chain that backed the programme pulled out.

One of the company's chains, Countdown, was the main sponsor of the programme which serves around 1600 breakfasts to decile one schools across the country.

Countdown, which also backs the MasterChef television programme, says it is planning to fund other community initiatives.

Child Poverty Action Group co-director Alan Johnson says the breakfasts help hundreds of children focus on learning.

He says the Government and private partners could step in and help about 500 schools for less than $25 million.

Mr Johnson says the schools would also have to raise some of the funds but the benefits would outweigh the cost.

Elizabeth Ryley, a manager at Countdown owner Progressive Enterprises, says the company thinks the programme is excellent and the new community initiatives it will be involved in will also focus on families.

Ms Ryley says the company had hoped Red Cross would find another sponsor.