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25% of disadvantaged kids eat canned food for CNY

TAIPEI, Taiwan --Twenty-five percent of disadvantaged children living in the countryside will have canned foods as their meals on Chinese New Year's Eve, the Child Welfare League Foundation (CWLF) announced yesterday.

The CWLF also said that 28 percent of disadvantaged children will not have new clothes for Chinese New Year and 38 percent of them will only have white rice or noodles for Chinese New Year's Eve.

The survey focused on children living in the countryside who came from poor socio-economic families.

In traditional Chinese culture, families on Chinese New Year's Eve attempt to have a lavish meal, while on Chinese New Year's Day everyone dons new clothes.

According to the CWLF's statistics, 27 percent of disadvantaged children own less than five outfits. This is a 10-percent increase compared to 2010 statistics.

The CWLF said most parents living in the countryside tend to face financial difficulties due to a lack of job opportunities in their locale. Taiwan's long-term economic difficulties have ensured disadvantaged families are facing an even worse financial situation, the CWLF added.

The CWLF also noted that teachers play a critical role in the daily lives of disadvantaged children. Their statistics showed that 58 percent of disadvantaged children prepare their meals with the assistance of teachers.

“We are the special nannies for these children because most of their parents can not get off work before their children go to bed,” said a teacher from a countryside school.

The CWLF's statistics also shed light on the disadvantaged students' Chinese New Year wishes, with 85 percent wishing for a long life for their family members and 24 percent wishing for good, daily meals over the festive period.

The CWLF said these wishes reflect the issues and pressure the children face. More resources are required from government and society to help these children break free of their financial difficulties.

This CWLF's survey was conducted between Sept. 24 and Oct. 12, 2012. A total of 1,213 fifth- and sixth-graders in countryside elementary schools were surveyed.

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