1. First of all let’s decide on the principle before arguing about the detail.
Let’s admit there is a significant problem of children turning up to school hungry and that a lot of kids are eating low cost foods that contain a lot of sugar and fat , causing obesity , diabetes and long term health problems.
And at least get the Feed The Kids Bill to Parliamentary Select Committee. You can argue all you want about how it should be funded or what’s going to be on the menu there.
If you don’t think we have a community responsibility to feed children and/or educate their palates to healthy eating habits – then read no further it will only make you angry.
2. It doesn’t fill a hungry kids tummy to point at their parents and shout “Your problem is you have bad parents”.
Inside Child Poverty New Zealand takes the view that kids don’t get to choose their parents and we have a community responsibility to ALL our kids to make sure they grow up healthy. And if that means feeding them for free- then that’s what we do.
If you watch the video that I filmed in Sweden for the documentary you will see children from multi -cultural backgrounds CHOOSING their food. And Yes children with allergies are catered for and Yes children can still bring their own lunch prepared by the parents .
4. Free healthy school meals can be paid for without raising taxes. We just choose to re-distribute the existing pool of tax payer money and give up on some other things.
Here are some suggestions. I’m sure you can think of other ways we could spend smarter.
- (a) We could fund school meals out of the Health vote rather than the Education vote. In a document released under the Official Information Act I revealed that children under 14 receive 10% of the money set aside for health care. But children under 14 represent 20% of our population. So we could fund some of it – if not all of it – by giving kids their fair share.
- (b )It is a well accepted health statistic that for every $1 we spend on preventing disease we save $4 in expensive hospital cure. So within a few years the scheme will fund itself out of what we save. If we DON’T do it, taxpayers will be spending much more than they are now on the Health budget in the future.
- (c) We could make children a spending priority. National plans to spend a billion a year on Roads of National Significance over the next 10 years. What about Children? – aren’t they of National Signifcance? I’d much rather feed our kids than be able to by – pass small towns while driving to Auckland.
- (d) We could pay the pension to people when they actually stop working and not just because they reach 65.
- (e) We could spend more energy making sure people paid their taxes . Last year the IRD detected about a Billion dollars worth of tax evasion mostly by businesses. It’s estimated that the real tax evasion in NZ is between 4 and 5 Billion.
Let’s impose greater penalties for tax evasion, and let’s stop thinking of tax as a bad thing. Tax is a good thing – it’s giving to ourselves. That’s how we can have schools and hospitals and yes even Roads Of National significance. Tax is the price of civilisation. Get over it.
Now whether you agree with some of the above, all of the above or none of the above , let’s at least agree that the Feed The Kids Bill should at least go to Select Committee after its First Reading so the issue can be properly debated.
Please contact your local MP today and urge them to support the Feed The Kids Bill.
You can find their contact details here - just click on their name.
Award winning documentary maker Bryan Bruce spent 6 months investigating what’s gone wrong with child health in New Zealand and what we can do about it.
He interviewed parents , teachers and health professionals, he even went to Sweden to find out why they are No2 in the OECD for child well being and we are second to bottom at No 28.
1 in 5 of our children now live in a home where the principal care giver is on some sort of benefit . It is children from these low income families who are largely suffering a number of the diseases associated with poverty including Rheumatic fever, Tuberculosis and serious skin infections.
Bryan is convinced from what he has seen in Sweden that there are many things we can do today that would solve our child health problems. So please watch and make your thoughts and feelings known to your local politician.
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