Kids hungry to learn

Madasia and Dimo about to dig in at the breakfast club. 139959 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By GEORGIA WESTGARTH

DOVETON College can get up to 100 hungry school children at its breakfast club on any given morning.
Not only do they come to school hungry, many of them also do not have a packed lunch.
Breakfast club co-ordinator Alan McCarthy said the volunteer run free breakfasts are vital.
“It’s definitely needed. There’s children, particularly towards the end of the fortnight, where money’s running low in the household, food is running low, there’s no bread and the children are coming to school without breakfast or lunch,” he said.
The club has been run every morning from 8.30am to 8.55am since the school opened three years ago.
“The primary schools that closed down in the area were already running breakfast clubs and the parents involved in that have transitioned to this school and kept it running,” he said.
Cereal, juice and toast are rotated throughout the week with the help of parents and volunteers and the club is hoping to introduce toasted sandwiches.
“Wednesdays and Fridays are our biggest days, we have volunteers from the Rotary Club of Dandenong who come in and read to the kids but also talk to them.
“We use the time to get about 20 minutes of reading in as well,” Mr McCarthy said.
The recent 2015-16 state budget will deliver $13.7 million over a four-year period to provide breakfasts for students at 500 of the most disadvantaged government primary schools in Victoria.
The program will start on the first day of the 2016 school year and will feed up to 25,000 children.
Mr McCarthy said Doveton College hoped to be one of the 500 schools.
“It’s a fantastic vital initiative, I think every school in Victoria would have a need for it, it’s very hard to concentrate when you haven’t had breakfast and all you’re thinking about is ’I haven’t had dinner, I haven’t had breakfast and I don’t have any lunch packed’,” he said.
According to the Victorian Government, one in seven children are dropped off at school gates with an empty stomach.
“Most of the children coming in I know genuinely need breakfast and I know it supports and helps them.
“The feedback we’re getting from the teaching staff is that the children are coming in better prepared to learn,” he said.
To donate equipment or food to the breakfast club contact Doveton College on 8765 0111.

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