Helping Warwick's hungry kids

ONE in four Australian parents have admitted to skipping meals in order to feed their children, research conducted for News Corp reveals.

But one Warwick family is combatting that, making sure kids are equipped with healthy snacks at school, to take the pressure off struggling families and keep little tummies full of the good stuff.

Noo Shepherd and partner Holly have been working with a couple of schools in Warwick to provide fruit for schoolkids, and they've rallied a tribe of community supporters.

"It all started after we saw a Smith Family ad on TV about children living in poverty and how to sponsor them,” Noo said.

"We weren't sure if we could commit to $30 a month, and risk letting some child down if we had to stop a payment for some reason.

"But it got us wondering if there was a need locally for help.

"So I got in contact with Marina Clarke, the principal at East school - she said there were and we asked her what we could do to help.”

From there Noo and Holly put a call out to family and friends on Facebook asking for volunteers to chip in $5 a week to be able to buy and supply a box of fruit to the school each week.

"The fruit is kept at The Hub at the school and any children going without can go there and get food,” she said.

"We currently have seven families who donate - some $5 a week, some $5 a fortnight and some just pay a sum into the account whenever they can afford it.

"Halfway through the year we gained a couple more so we were able to take on another school.

"We now supply to Central and East.”

KIND HEARTS: Helping feed Warwick's hungry students are Holly Shepherd, Avery Shepherd-Bond, Noo Shepherd, Parker Shepherd, East principal Marina Clarke and Huxley Shepherd.
KIND HEARTS: Helping feed Warwick's hungry students are Holly Shepherd, Avery Shepherd-Bond, Noo Shepherd, Parker Shepherd, East principal Marina Clarke and Huxley Shepherd. Jonno Colfs

Noo said she understood there were family tax benefit payments and a welfare system and charities for people to fall back on, but it wasn't always enough.

"Some people don't prioritise well with money and waste it on things that aren't necessities,” she said.

"But at the end of the day, as a human, how could you look a small child in the eyes and say, 'I can't help you because your parents waste their money on drugs and smokes?'.”

Noo said she was looking for more donors to facilitate taking on another school in 2018.

"Holly and I are also planning on trying to register as a charity or not for profit organisation later in the year,” she said.

"It would be great to provide to every school in need so no child goes hungry.

"It's nice as a community member to be able to make a difference without spending a fortune.”

Donor Pauline Pickering said the wonderful idea was a no-brainer for her.

"It's $5, that's a cup of coffee,” she said.

"It's such a small price to pay to help local kids in need.”

Warwick East State School principal Marina Clarke said the program had been a wonderful and welcome addition to school life.

"It's so simple and so effective,” she said.

"This is something the school used to have to fund, but now, thanks to these guys, we can spend that money on other important things.”

For anyone who has $5 a week and wants to help, contact Noo Shepherd on Facebook.

According to a finder.com.au survey of 1861 Australian parents, 24percent reported having skipped a meal in order to ensure their children don't go hungry.

An alarming 6.6percent said they skipped a meal as often as once a week or more in order to make ends meet - with 6,070,316 families in Australia as of the

2016 census, that's 378,000 who go without one meal a week in order to feed their kids.

In total, 1.5 million

families have skipped a meal in order to feed their children first.



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