By John Minto
It was an odd victory this week for MANA.
In the last election MANA made 'Feed the Kids' our first policy. In a land that feeds over 40million people worldwide each year, the very idea that our children go hungry is an obscenity.
The government can argue about National Standards all they like, but if the kids are hungry, they learn nothing. Rather than blame the parents for benefits that can't pay the bills, MANA demanded direct action and have submitted a private members bill to discuss and debate the issue so that every decile 1 & 2 school can run full breakfasts and lunches for every student.
Watching Labour take our idea and also promote 'feed the kids' was a great addition to the movement. While their private members bill was un-costed, it did allow the idea to gain broader political traction. That momentum culminated with this week's announcement that even the Government were now considering 'feed the kids'.
It's a pity the media forgot that MANA started this, but those who work at the frontline of poverty know where the credit is due.
The power of our Democracy is that you can change things. Who would have thought that a Party with 1.08% of the vote could influence the rest of the political spectrum to seriously start debating the needs of those 270 000 children currently living in poverty?
But it is an odd victory.
This recession is cutting deeper and hurting more. If we don't make serious investment into our social infrastructure an immediate priority for the next 2014 Government, we will lose a generation to poverty. MANA sees this poverty, fights this poverty and stands shoulder to shoulder with the victims of this poverty.
That Labour and National have finally admitted that hungry children need support is great, but the time it took them to reach this realization has wrecked terrible anguish for our communities.
It's time to check our ego at the door, stop blaming parents for child poverty and do something to lift a finger and allow us to feed our kids. Let's at least fill their stomachs so they can fill their minds.
John Minto is MANA Vice President