Kiwi pre-schoolers fainting from hunger, charity claims

A charity supporting vulnerable schoolchildren is now expanding its services to pre-schoolers.

KidsCan is launching a nationwide programme to provide food and clothing for under-fives.

Chief executive Julie Chapman says it is a major problem.

"We have reports of children fainting from hunger, young babies coming in without formula or nappies. So for us, it was a move that we wanted to make."

The latest programme was trialled in Northland, Auckland and Hawke's Bay last year. Ms Chapman says it will reach around 2000 people, once it reaches its funding target.

"That covers right now around 1000 children, and our aim is to expand that to cover another 1000 kids. We really need caring Kiwis to get on board."

She says the charity is responding to a high demand for help.

"We've been contacted by so many early childhood centres that have a huge need for their children in terms of clothing, head line treatment and food."

KidsCan already operates in more than 700 schools across the country, providing food, clothing and supplies.

The Children's Commissioner estimates around 290,000 Kiwi kids live in low-income families, and nearly half of those miss out on basic necessary items.

"Every child deserves the best start in life and to grow up and reach their potential free of the burden of poverty," Prime Minsiter Jacinda Ardern said last year at the release of the 2017 Child Poverty Monitor report, which contained the shocking figures.

They were actually an improvement on previous years, which the Children's Commissioner put down to increased benefit payments from 2015.

"There are still thousands of New Zealand children going without the basics they need," noted Ms Ardern.

The Government last year also passed its Child Poverty Reduction Bill, and this year's Budget is expected to have a big focus on reversing inequality.


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