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Back to school brings full tummies again for vulnerable kids, thanks to KidsCan

It was back to making lunches for many parents this morning but for a growing group of Kiwi families, getting the food to put in the lunchbox is not always possible.

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Demand has hit new heights during the pandemic, with the charity now providing food for 44,000 children. Source: Seven Sharp

For those families, today the school bell brought relief and a full tummy.

KidsCan provides food, clothing and basic health and hygiene items for kids in schools.

At their main HQ, they've been busy.

"We've been packing food in the warehouse to send out to 787 schools across New Zealand, so kids have something to eat and fill their tummies," chief executive Julie Chapman told Seven Sharp.

"Pre-Covid we were providing food for 34,000 children a day, and now that we're going into term two, and there's job losses, redundancies, we've seen almost a 30 per cent increase in the need for food. 

"So that's an extra 10,000 kids a day that need food."

That's now 44,000 children across 787 schools, up almost 30 per cent since term one.

"This term will be our biggest food distribution ever, 152 tonnes of food packed and sent out," Ms Chapman says.

One grateful receiver of these ultimate care packages is Waikato's Mercer School.

Principal Paula Faitala says many families have been doing it tough. 

"Seeing and talking to members of my community, and hearing about job losses, extra people in the home during lockdown. The pressure was phenomenal."

But today the ups and downs of lockdown were put to one side because in the kitchen, there's plenty to go around.

"We've had a delivery today and hot lunches all week, there is no need for anyone to go hungry," Ms Faitala says.

For many parents, it's taken a big stress off their plate. 

"Seeing that you don't have to struggle to get food in them is a blessing," Mercer school mum Marsha says.

There were 44,000 full tummies today, 44,000 Kiwi kids who can join the others just hungry to learn.

"We'll be there as long as needed, keep getting food out and make sure kids don't go hungry," Ms Chapman says.