May 16, 2013
TEACH A MAN TO FISH
Where's the long term solution to youth hunger?
Hungry children perform poorly in school and are more prone to becoming social outcasts with all the ensuing downstream problems. We all acknowledge children are going to school hungry - it's been all over the media in recent days.
But where are the long term initiatives to solve this significant problem? Today's budget contains no solutions. Also, providing free lunches for kids in school is only a short term answer that puts the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
We need to provide our kids with the skills they need, not only to feed themselves, but also to acquire a more positive attitude to food and socialisation, and become stable and productive members of society later on. To paraphrase a well-known proverb, by teaching children to fish they can feed themselves for life.
Garden to Table Trust operates a programme in New Zealand schools where children aged between seven and 10 learn about good food and life skills. The youngsters are taught how to grow, harvest, prepare and share food in their school's gardens and kitchen facilities.
They also learn about the environment and sustainability and enrich their curriculum subjects through hands-on learning. A recent research study shows that the programme also has many positive spin-offs for family and community life.
The Garden to Table programme has been running for four years, and now thousands of children from 15 schools across NZ are enjoying the programme. And there are more than 60 schools waiting to join them, but there are many challenges in obtaining funding.
The cost of introducing such a programme as ours would be but a drop in the bucket for the government when you consider the benefits. Our programme is based on Australia's Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. The Australian government recently announced a new $5.4 million funding commitment to support that programme during the next three years to provide opportunity for 400 new schools to join.
Initiatives that provide long term benefits for the children and their families and also for the nation need to be fostered. Garden to Table's activities are a leading example of a proven long term solution that government needs to support.
Catherine Bell,Chairperson, Garden to Table Trust
Tel: +64-9-377 8925, Mob: +64-21-471 973, email:firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>
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