When Hunger Gets in the Way of Learning

March 8, 2024

Fair Food General Manager Michelle helps to load fresh rescued kai onto a delivery truck.

The rising cost of living is leading to some Kiwi kids facing hunger and barriers to school attendance. Fair Food is committed to bridging the gap between hunger and education.

“No mum wants to send their kids to school with an empty lunchbox. Every day, we visit kids who are staying home from school because of hunger,” reveals a school attendance advisor. Meanwhile Fair Food volunteers load up her car with fresh produce, eggs, and dairy for a family of four.

“Food is exactly what we need to get kids back in school. More and more families are being sent our way due to chronically missing school or are caught shoplifting for a bit of food so that they just have something to eat for lunch. We can work with the families, but until they have food, there will be a barrier to attendance.” 

Fair Food has seen a huge rise in referrals for food assistance through schools. In addition to support through police and truancy services, they are now making lunch packs for alternative education providers and schools that don’t qualify for the Ka Ora Ka Ako government lunch programme. 

“The cost of living keeps outpacing salaries, and more and more families who work full-time now need help with food. There’s kids in our community who save their school lunch, so there’s something for them to eat for dinner. We are now rescuing kai seven days a week to help people who work Monday through Friday and can’t get to a traditional social service because they’re working when it’s open,” says Fair Food General Manager Michelle. 

Fair Food General Manager Michelle helps to load fresh rescued kai onto a delivery truck.

The Kai Club, started by students at a local Intermediate School, distributed soup and bread throughout winter until their supplies ran out. They turned to Fair Food to fill the gap, Niva, the Leader of Pasifika shared, “We are so grateful to Fair Food who have stepped in to provide us with premade food which the Kai Club reheats and distributes. Through their kind donation, we have been able to provide food to students daily as well as toast and fruit to any student who needs a snack during lunchtime.”

“Thanks to One Percent Collective members, we have been able to help make sure hunger doesn’t get in the way of learning” says Michelle. “A $10 donation means a week’s worth of meals for someone who would otherwise not eat.” 

Words and images supplied by Fair Food.

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