He cowered in the corridor doorway. Away from the other children who were finishing their lunches. Some of us had already finished and were returning our lunchboxes to our schoolbags. When we spotted him, we stopped in our tracks. Sheepishly eating the last of an ice cream cone, he realised his mistake.
“Where did you get that ice cream from!?” we all demanded.
Ice cream for lunch is a prize in every child’s eyes.
The poor boy, embarrassed that he had been discovered, admitted: “I didn’t have an ice cream. I just had a cone for lunch”.
The kids are hungry
Schools in New Zealand are ranked in socio-economic order from 1 to 10 so that funding can be allocated. 10 is the highest, 1 is the lowest and each decile contains a tenth of the schools in NZ. From ages 5 to 9, I attended a decile 3 primary (elementary) school and poverty was all around. Many children only dreamed of lunch.
My sister and I were lucky and – though scrawny – always well fed. There were even times we had to be coerced into eating. When I had my lunch snatched at school, but I never minded. It was sometimes a relief not to eat lunch. Teachers that caught the kids would offer me their own lunch, but I never accepted. I guess I knew even then, it was out of desperation, not out of menace. The kids weren’t being mean, they were hungry. I was not.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about NZ children under the poverty line and plans to get meals into their bellies. New Zealand schools don’t provide any meals for students and may be one of the reasons why many children go hungry. I think the general consensus is that money isn’t the issue. If it were, then why would one family on the poverty line fail to send their children to school with lunch when another family can?
If you’re interested in helping out with any part of the equation, a brand new Facebook community page called Feeding Our Future is creating awareness and soon lobbying to the public and private entities. Not to turn this into a political blog, but the government aren’t stepping in to fill the gap so we need to look into other ways to fix the situation. I’m not so much a mover and a shaker, but I firmly believe in everyone doing what they can. Not everyone is in a position to give money. But thankfully, money is only a small part of the equation. Keep your eyes peeled. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this topic.
What does poverty feel like?
Next week, I will be joining
hundreds one thousand other Kiwis in the Live Below The Line Challenge to see what poverty feels like and what it truly means. For those that can’t join us, you can still make a donation.
Where is the money going?
I have nominated for all donations to go to the World Vision and World Food Programme (WFP) partnership. WFP to delivers life-saving food aid to families facing extreme hunger around the world. The food is provided by WFP, but World Vision needs to raise money to cover distribution costs, which include transportation, warehouse storage and staffing. Because of this partnership, every $1 you donate to a World Vision-WFP appeal enables World Vision to deliver $6 worth food aid and other relief essentials. Sadly while there may be enough food in the world, distribution continues to be a major issue.
My profile page where you can find out more about this campaign and or make a donation is www.livebelowtheline.com/me/genie. Make a donation via the PayPal link there. There is no amount too small. Every cent counts. Donors can choose to be named or remain anonymous and tax receipts will be emailed to all sponsors.