Every school day kids around Australia go to school hungry – affecting their behaviour, their ability to learn, and their health. NCNS have developed a program for kids from schools in the local area to help combat this – Breakfast Club.
Breakfast Club runs every school day, from 7.30am to 8.45am, at Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre. Kids and their families are able to drop in, have a nutritious breakfast, and even pack a lunch and morning tea. Foods include toast, cereals, porridge, yoghurt, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs, juice, cheese and more. Toasties are a favourite, on Toastie Wednesdays, and Thursday is Milo Day. Anna, who runs the program, has also introduced homemade sausage rolls as an occasional treat.
The kids come from a variety of schools, mostly Cranebrook High, and Braddock Primary. They come for the food, but they also come for the games (I’ve been beaten quite a few times at checkers), the friendship, and the support of the workers that volunteer their time.
Breakfast Club is not without its challenges – funding is scarce, making variety difficult; there are times when older kids can be challenging; and there is a lack of education about the importance of breakfast.
But… the benefits are wide-ranging. Not only are the kids better prepared to make the most of their school day, but they are learning about good eating habits, developing a good routine, and they are also building rapport with the workers – so if and when trouble occurs, they recognise Breakfast Club as a safe place to come.
Breakfast Club also helps in other ways. One example is a family with two kids, and Mum and Dad have separated. Mum drops the kids to Breakfast Club, the boy takes himself to high school, and Dad picks up the girl and drops her to school. Breakfast Club has made it easier for this family to perform their everyday tasks without causing more issues between Mum and Dad.
I’ve been attending Breakfast Club once a month for a while now. I’ve enjoyed watching the kids prepare their own breakfast, and make their own lunch in readiness for the day ahead. I’ve enjoyed watching the kids interact with each other, and I’ve enjoyed chatting with the kids, and playing games with them. I’ve seen kids having physical cuts bandaged up, and I’ve seen kids having emotional wounds comforted.
NCNS believe that all kids have the right to live to the best of their potential. Breakfast Club is one way we are working towards giving these kids an opportunity to do just that.