High school students in South Auckland are going hungry as they try to learn in lockdown, the head of a mentoring programme says.
Launched in December 2020, Lālanga delivers health and wellbeing programmes to students at Tamaki, Ōtāhuhu, Māngere and Tangaroa colleges.
Founder Lesieli Oliver told Breakfast it is asking people to donate money to help purchase 200 food boxes for the Tamaki College community.
It needs $40,000 and any leftover funds will be given to the Pasifika community, she said.
The programme had been finding it difficult to engage the students this week and were told this was because they were going hungry.
"Students can literally not engage in their online learning because there’s no food," Oliver told Breakfast.
"A lot of these students actually relied on the healthy school lunches scheme. The reality for a lot of them was this was actually their only meal."
Many of the students Lālanga mentored normally squeeze some work around school, Oliver said, but have been unable to due to the lockdown.
"The thing I love about these kids and that I find so humbling is that I’m just inspired by their determination and grit to help their parents and still succeed at school."
Oliver pointed out more than 60 per cent of students in one Lālanga school do 20 to 25 hours of paid work on top of their education.
Being unable to work has put added stress on them and their families.
"Our number one goal is to get them to engage in school and they cannot if they’re hungry."
If you want to donate, you can go to Lālanga's website and purchase or donate towards a food box.