Pupils in an additional 500 schools throughout New South Wales (NSW) will now receive complimentary breakfasts in an attempt to tackle food insecurity, the new NSW budget revealed Tuesday.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the School Breakfast 4 Health Program will work in conjunction with Foodbank, an organization fighting hunger in Australia. The program will, according to Perrottet, take “pressure off parents struggling to put food on the table” and is expected to positively affect student health and education results.
Countless studies show breakfast to be the most important meal of the day — especially for children. Research has revealed that children who don’t eat breakfast can have difficulty handling the demands of school in the mornings. Regularly consuming a nutritious meal before school, however, can lead to a sustained boost in grades and greater enjoyment of learning.
A 2016 study analyzed 15,000 schoolchildren in Hong Kong and found students who eat breakfast daily were 18 months ahead academically compared to those who miss the meal.
Foodbank NSW & ACT would like to thank the NSW Government for their commitment of $8 million over 4 years which will allow us to expand our School Breakfast 4 Health program to an additional 500 schools 💜💜#thankyou#norumblingtummiespic.twitter.com/mIWyV0eYJW— Foodbank NSW & ACT (@FoodbankNSWACT) June 18, 2019
Schools in lower income communities will be prioritized as the expanded program rolls out, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The pre-existing breakfast program is currently administered throughout 100 NSW schools, and has already had positive impacts.
The principal of Sydney’s southwestern Campbellfield Public, Nicole Wade, said the program had “amazing benefits” for her students and provided relief for countless families.
"It is much more than just cereal and toast for children," she told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It has brought our school community together, and it has really taught students the value of teamwork, empathy, and collaboration as well as nutrition and cooking skills. Children are coming into their classrooms, smiling and happy to learn.”
Last year, over 4 million Australians — or 18% of the population — lacked secure access to food, the Foodbank Hunger Report 2018 revealed. And many of them were children.
"It’s shocking to know that around three kids in every classroom across Australia are going to school hungry,” the homepage for Foodbank’s School Breakfast 4 Health Program reads. “This is where Foodbank’s program steps in, providing students … with a nutritious meal to help them focus and concentrate in class.”
By rescuing edible food that would otherwise go to waste from places like grocery stores, in 2019 Foodbank was able to source enough food for over 77 million meals for vulnerable Australians.
The school breakfast program will use a combination of rescued food and brought produce funded by donations.
Beyond the expansion of the breakfast program, the NSW budget announced that, over the next four years, $6.7 billion would be spent on school infrastructure and $10 million would go toward helping schools and students become more sustainable. Overall, $18.6 billion was announced for education in the budget — up from $15.7 billion last year.