Food for all – mums sort out school lunches

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”It’s overwhelming. It’s gone from a little idea to this.”

The little idea was Angella Otene’s.

She is the parent of a child at Netherby School, and what she saw while on holiday in Invercargill has leap-frogged into a full-scale food operation in Ashburton.

From the second week of Term One next year, all children at Netherby School will be tucking into a healthy breakfast at the school on Mondays and Tuesdays.

If the need is greater, the Netherby School Whanau Kickstart Breakfast Club programme may extend to other days.

Mondays and Tuesdays were chosen as they were the days before most pay-days, Wednesdays and Thursdays, when money for some families is tightest.

Said Angella: “I’m from Invercargill and my brother lives there and we went on holiday. My brother took me to his school, St Joseph’s, and I was introduced to it (school breakfasts) there.

“We had started a whanau group here, and at my last whanau group I mentioned it and we have come a long way.

“We have Countdown on board, and Netherby 4 Square, and House of Travel, and we are contacting other businesses. The support is overwhelming.”

In a letter to supporters, Angella said it was no secret that children who started their day with nutritious food were better able to concentrate on their learning and make better choices for behaviour.

She said Kickstart was backed by Sanitarium and Fonterra (cereal and milk) and more than 800 schools nationwide were “enjoying an awesome start to their day”.

Initially, the whanau group expects 50 children but they expect demand to grow as word gets out.

It will be the only school in Ashburton with such a scheme.

Angella said it was producing T-shirts with the whanau motto: Learning is crucial to our tamariki and community. Our mission is to ensure all of our tamariki have access to adequate and nutritious food to kick start their school day.

She said the school had terrific teachers, and thanked the principal, Phil Wheeler, for backing the whanau group.

Angella said the breakfast was for every child.

“Our whanau group is about love, everyone. We love everyone; we care about everybody.”

The children, having eaten, will be asked to rinse and stack their dishes and members of the whanau will wash them for the next day. Angella said the club was “forever” and any group which wanted to help was welcome.