13 Nov 2012

Cross-party support for free food bill urged

9:39 pm on 13 November 2012

Child poverty campaigners say MP's should set aside party differences and support a bill that would provide food for children in low decile schools.

A private member's bill, by Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, was drawn from the parliamentary ballot last week.

The Feed The Kids Bill proposes the Government pay for free breakfasts and lunches in all decile one and two schools around the country.

The Northland Child Poverty Action group says it would relieve some of the stress on poor families in a region where unemployment is now running at 10 per cent or more.

Spokesperson Sherry Carne says research done last year showed Far North families are cutting back on food because they had no alternative, once power and rent were paid.

She says 70% of Far North children are in low decile schools.

However, Northland National MP Mike Sabin says schools in his region don't want the universal food programme proposed by the Mana Party.

Mr Sabin says most schools don't need a programme that feeds every child .

He says the government paid $46 million in food grants last year - and $150,000 this year toward the Kids Can breakfast in schools programme.

Mr Sabin says most beneficiaries and people on low incomes do a good job of feeding their children breakfast and lunch.