The stories behind the statistics: the grim reality for 254,000 children struggling in poverty

The stories behind the statistics: the grim reality for 254,000 children struggling in poverty

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

KidsCan is backing calls by the Children’s Commissioner for bold action to lift 254,000 Kiwi kids out of poverty. The 2019 Child Poverty Monitor, released today, found that for 148,000 children life is especially tough, without enough to eat, sturdy shoes or warm clothes.

KidsCan’s CEO and Founder Julie Chapman says behind the statistics are shocking stories of life in poverty.

“Principals are telling us about four children splitting one sandwich, which was their only food for the day, and a student whose dinner was “red soup” - just the coloured water left from cooking cheerios,” Chapman says. “Then there were brothers turning up to school on alternate days because they were sharing one pair of shoes.

“As a country, we’re not doing enough. We have to do more to change these kids’ realities - they don’t deserve to be living like this.” 

KidsCan supports 740 low decile schools nationwide with breakfast, snacks, lunches, raincoats, shoes, sanitary items and other health essentials. The charity’s new early childhood programme provides fresh lunches and clothing to nearly 1000 children in 25 centres.

“We are struggling to keep up with the demand for help,” Chapman says. “We have thousands of children in 50 schools and 142 early childhood centres waiting for support. We need more Kiwis to imagine life in their shoes, and do what they can to help.”

KidsCan’s mission is to ease the burden on families by helping with the basics, so children can focus on learning.

“Housing costs are crippling the families of children we support,” Chapman says. “We’re hearing of children living in cold, damp, substandard housing; multiple families living together in overcrowded homes; and parents having to choose between paying the power bill, or buying enough food. We don’t want the next generation to be facing the same challenges.”

This year KidsCan has provided:

Baked beans, bread, spreads, fruit, yoghurt, supergrain bars and scroggin, fuelling on average 30,000 children a week.
Over 424,500 servings of hot meals - including soups, curries and pasta - to 491 schools
Over 40,000 raincoats and 25,000 pairs of shoes to get children to school warm and dry
Over 45,000 bottles of head lice treatment and 45,000 lice combs
Over 28,200 boxes of sanitary products. A 2018 KidsCan survey revealed 29% of 15-17 year old respondents said they had missed school due to a lack of access to sanitary items.

Thousands of Kiwi kids still need our help. To donate visit


For further comment: 

Julie Chapman: KidsCan CEO & Founder

027 293 1778 or [email protected] 

For more information: 

Sarah Stewart: External Media Specialist 

022 175 6364 or [email protected]


KidsCan is proudly supported by Meridian Energy, Principal Partner since 2013.