According KidsCan, a record number of Canterbury schools are now supported by the charity organisation to ensure children receive a hot meal, as the cost-of-living pushes more families into poverty.
The charity helps feed 2907 children each day from 58 schools across the region, up from 2064 in term 4 last year.
In Christchurch, 43 schools are supported by the charity to provide food for 2563 children, an increase of more than 600 on last year.
Julie Chapman, chief executive of KidsCan, said Covid-19 and “the soaring cost of living” is “now being felt in the classroom”.
“We are feeding nearly 900 more children a day at schools in Canterbury this term than we were a year ago,” she said.
“We have several schools and early childhood centres in the region waiting for support and we need public help to reach them as soon as possible.”
KidsCan now supports 877 schools nationwide, helping to feed more than 49,000 students a day.
However, the increase in demand comes as the charity has seen a drop in regular givers, who are having to tighten their own budgets, said Chapman.
“Too much of the burden is falling on overwhelmed teachers, and they need all the support we can give them.”