King Country whānau at breaking point as cost of living bites, says manager
Families in King Country have been without power for weeks – and whānau are at breaking point, says a school principal.
Rising cost of living with rising food, fuel and rent prices has created a cost of living crisis and families are struggling to make ends meet, the director of the Kāwhia Primary School, Leanne Apiti.
“We have parents who say they’re going to crack soon.”
For some, refueling to get their children to school, or even to the bus stop, was impossible.
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“It’s not for lack of trying, it’s just the cost of living,” she said.
“They are working full time and still struggling. There is so much love, but there is so much pressure.
It comes as KidsCan is making an urgent appeal to help feed children as winter arrives, in response to a surge in requests for help – with more than 2,000 children on its waiting list.
The charity was asking the public to donate $15 for the 15% of New Zealand children who are food insecure.
Apiti said teachers saw children reacting to what would normally be minor situations, that they were nervous and many had simply given up trying.
“We haven’t had full attendance all year. Part of that is Covid-19, but the [living] also costs.
“We go out ourselves and collect the children to take them to school.”
The decile 1a school of 53 students received the healthy school meals program, as well as food, clothing and medical supplies from KidsCan.
This included winter jackets, shoes, head lice treatment and snacks for the children.
“For some people, it’s their main source of kai,” Apiti said. “We asked one child to bring a birthday cake, and another child asked to bring home a piece for nana because he was having a hard time.”
Apiti said KidsCan’s winter jackets have made a big difference and the kids are really grateful.
“Kids wear these jackets with so much pride. Some children slept in their jackets.
KidsCan was now helping to feed a record 44,000 children in more than 1,000 schools and child care centers nationwide.
Thousands more at 19 schools and 52 childcare centers were waiting for help, said KidsCan founder and CEO Julie Chapman.
“Low-income families are doing things harder than ever. They cannot absorb the rising cost of living and at the end of the week the food runs out. It’s a horrible way to live.
Chapman said the burden of helping often fell on teachers’ shoulders, because before children could learn, they needed to be fed and warmed up.
“We’ve seen a spike in schools and childcare centers asking for help, but with our monthly donations down for the first time, we need more help.
“We’re asking everyone who can afford it to donate just $15 to help feed the children we support and reach those who need help faster,” she said.
“These children deserve nothing less.”
Seven schools requested support in a single week in April, and requests for hot meals were up 33% from last term.
The cost of living crisis was also affecting donations, Chapman said.
The number of monthly donors – whom charities relied on for continued support – fell for the first time in KidsCan’s 17-year history.
$15 would feed a child for a week with a nutritious breakfast of baked beans, bread, spreads, fruit and yogurt, and a morning tea of trail mix, bars- snacks and fruit jars.