UWU releases report showing daily ECEC food budgets may leave children hungry

UWU releases report showing daily ECEC food budgets may leave children hungry

by Freya Lucas

March 21, 2022

The United Workers Union (UWU) has released a report following an investigation into the daily food budgets for feeding children attending early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, noting that some providers allocate as little as $0.65 per child per day for food.

 

Children going hungry found that nearly half of those surveyed (47 per cent) felt that children at their centre were not provided with enough high-quality food to eat while over half of the cooks and chefs who responded (55 per cent) said that the food budget at their centre causes them stress.

 

60 per cent of those surveyed who work directly in food provision (chefs and cooks in the main) said they had purchased food for children to supplement the budget they were given, and one in five of those who responded said the amount of food available was “never enough” to meet the needs of the children in their care. 

 

“The food budgets reported by educators are a disgrace,” UWU Director Early Education Helen Gibbons said. “How can $0.65 possibly be enough to provide adequate nutrition for a developing child?”

 

Ms Gibbons was referring to the report finding which showed that food budgets ranged widely between $0.65 – $5 per day per child. The average overall for food budgets was $2.15 per day per child.

 

The results also showed that for-profit providers had lower average daily budgets, and that educators working within those services reported lower quality food, instances where educators were more likely to experience stress due to food budgets, and that educators were more likely to purchase food out of their own pocket.

 

Ms Gibbons expressed concern that cost-cutting measures were being applied to food budgets in order to improve the bottom line for services. 

 

“Educators who cannot stand to see children without enough to eat are buying food staples out of their own low wages, in a sector that is unsustainable for workers, children and parents,” she said.

 

“This cannot be allowed to continue. Parents deserve to know how much of their fees are being spent on feeding their children.”

 

To access the report in full please see here

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