Breakfast club fills an important gap for students

Governor General Kerry Sanderson with Greg Hebble from Foodbank in Perth at the Belmont warehouse where the food stuff is centrally stored. Picture: David Baylis
Breakfast club fills an important gap for students
Governor General Kerry Sanderson with Greg Hebble from Foodbank in Perth at the Belmont warehouse where the food stuff is centrally stored. Picture: David Baylis

FIFTEEN years ago, students at Corridor College in Midland School were surveyed and results found that 17 per cent were coming to school without breakfast.

The school decided to try a breakfast program and approached Foodbank WA for a donation of breakfast foods.

Several other schools had also approached Foodbank, reporting that they had a growing number of students attending school without having eaten any breakfast or eating such a poor breakfast they were hungry in class.

Teachers noted that students missing out on a good breakfast were more often sick, late or absent when compared to others in their class and were unable to concentrate, significantly affecting their ability to learn.

Since then Foodbank has launched what has become the largest School Breakfast Program in Australia.

WA Education Minister Peter Collier launched a commemorative book with stories from 11 participating schools in the program.

“Foodbank fills a gap for thousands of students who are not getting breakfast every day,” Mr Collier said. “It is essential in terms of nutrition and education.”

“We started with just 17 schools in 2001 and were supporting more than 100 schools within four years,” Foodbank WA executive officer Greg Hebble said.

“Today we have a record 432 school registered with our program and cover communities right across WA.”

Mr Hebble said it often surprised people to learn that so many children in WA were going to school hungry.

“People find it hard to believe, but we now have more than 18,000 students a week accessing our breakfast clubs.

“The reasons for this vary, but some of the key drivers include low income, poverty, remoteness and lack of access to nutritious food at home.”

Today the charity provides more than 400,000kg of food to schools each year, who estimate that they provide over 58,000 serves of breakfast each week. About 60 per cent of schools now run their breakfast club five days a week, with an average attendance of around 62 students per day.

A growing concern is the number of emergency meals also being provided to children who come without food for recess or lunch which schools estimate at an additional 24,900 meals a week.

Education Minister Peter Collier launched a commemorative book featuring the development of the program and stories from 11 schools, while Governor of WA Kerry Sanderson, provided service awards to 12 schools who have delivered the program consecutively over the last 15 years.