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Today the United Workers Union (UWU) has released a report showing children are going hungry in early education and care, with daily food budgets from some providers as low as $0.65 per day.

The report Children going hungry found:

  • 1 in 5 educators said the food budget at their centre was ‘never’ enough.
  • Almost half (47%) of educators overall think that children at their centre are not provided with enough high-quality food to eat.
  • 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.
  • Over a third of educators overall said that the food budget at their centre causes them stress. This was much higher amongst cooks, of whom over half (55%) said this was the case.
  • Almost 40% of educators and 60% of cooks say that they have bought food for the children they educate and care for out of their own pocket.
  • Results also showed that for-profit providers had lower average daily budgets, educators reported lower quality food, educators were more likely to experience stress due to food budgets, and educators were more likely to purchase food out of their own pocket.

Quotes attributable to Helen Gibbons, Director Early Education, United Workers Union:

“The food budgets reported by educators are a disgrace. How can $0.65 possibly be enough to provide adequate nutrition for a developing child?

“Parents in Australia pay some of the highest out-of-pocket costs in the OECD. Yet many centres, especially among for-profit providers, are cost-cutting to increase profits while children go hungry. G8 Education, the largest for-profit provider in the country, recently announced a profit of $45.7 million.

“Every day early childhood educators work hard to do the impossible: provide healthy nutritious food for the children in their care without enough funds. Now educators are speaking out about how taxpayer funding and parents’ fees are being taken away from food budgets and funnelled into profits.

“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.

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

“United Workers Union is calling for urgent action around food budgets in early education.”