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Push for state funded food in schools

Published: 6:36PM Wednesday May 01, 2013 Source: ONE News

The Government is under pressure to let the issue of state funded food in schools have a proper hearing.

Parliament will in a few weeks consider a Mana Party member's bill on the issue.

The bill would provide free breakfasts and lunches to all Decile 1 and 2 schools at a cost of a $100 million a year.

The Prime Minister was coy when asked about the bill today, however acknowledged that hungry kids do not learn well.

"We have some responsibility to try to make sure that they are not hungry, so that they can actually learn," John Key said.

Mana leader Hone Harawira is not expecting the Government to back the bill, but had been hoping that with the support of United Future leader Peter Dunne he could still get the bill to select committee even without Government support.

However after sitting on the fence for weeks, Dunne today confirmed he was against it.

"The parents have got the primary responsibility, and we've got to work with parents to make sure they meet this responsibility," he said.

"If schools pick up the ball in their absence, it simply absolves them of that responsibility and I think that's wrong."

Now a new coalition of 24 church, union and community groups is vowing to lobby MPs to at least give it a proper hearing.

"An estimated 80,000 children go to school hungry," Deborah Morris Travers of Every Child Counts told ONE News.

"All we want is to get it to go to select committee so that we can have a public discussion about this, so that Parliament can look at this issue in detail."

Late last year an expert advisory group also called on the Government to implement a food in schools programme.

The Government is considering the report and a response is due in a couple of weeks.