Benalla P-12 College’s Breakfast Club is part of a state government initiative that is giving children from disadvantaged families in Northern Victoria a brighter and healthier start to the day.
The program has now served more than three million meals across Victoria and provides 50000 free breakfasts every week.
Benalla P-12 College Waller St Campus student wellbeing coordinator Bronwyn Greig said their Breakfast Club had been a success for so long it pre-dates the amalgamation of Benalla College and other local schools.
‘‘It started a long time ago. It’s always been part of P12 since its beginning,’’ Ms Greig said.
‘‘On the Waller St campus we get an average of 35 kids coming each day, and that’s just one campus, there would be anything up to 50 on other campuses.’’
Ms Greig said the club was important to a town like Benalla, where every child did not necessarily get a healthy breakfast.
‘‘We have low socio-economic families who are having difficulties budgeting their everyday lives, especially with Christmas coming up,’’ she said.
‘‘Some kids can also pick up their parents’ habits including not eating breakfast.
‘‘They see mum and dad racing out the door without having breakfast, and do the same thing.
‘‘So they come to school without breakfast and by 9.30 they are not concentrating, but the breakfast club means they have food in their stomachs and it gives them much more energy to get through the day and work well.’’
State Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp said: ‘‘Kids can’t get the best out of themselves without a decent breakfast. That is why the school breakfast clubs are so important; they’re making a real difference for teachers and students.’’
Research has shown that since the program started, nine out of 10 teachers have seen improved student concentration in the classroom, while seven out of 10 teachers have noted improved attendance and more than eight out of 10 teachers said they now had better relationships with their students.
‘‘Despite the success of kids having a brighter and healthier start before a day of learning the program would be cut by the Liberals if they win the next election,’’ Mr Gepp said.
The Liberal Nationals have promised a cost audit, which Labor say might mean cuts to programs like breakfast clubs, the school uniform program and initiatives that help kids go to school camps and excursions.
The delivery of the $13.7million breakfast club commitment is an example of how the state government is tackling disadvantage and making things fair, so that all children can reach their potential, regardless of their background or circumstances.
All of the School Breakfast Club Program products are sourced locally from Victorian producers and manufacturers, including Blue Lake Milling from Dimboola, Uncle Toby’s at Wahgunyah and SPC and Pactum Dairy in Shepparton.
Across the Murray Plains Electorate 21 schools offer breakfast club programs, while 295400 individual breakfasts have been provided across the Loddon Campaspe Region.
●Volunteering opportunities can be found at: www.foodbankvictoria.org.au/SBCvolunteers