PUPILS at 14 Mornington Peninsula schools can start their day with a full tummy thanks to the state government’s school breakfast clubs and the help of volunteers.
They are among 500 schools across the state to have received 50,000 free meals each week since 2016 – with almost 210,000 meals going to pupils at primary schools on the peninsula. These also include Baxter, Bittern, Crib Point, Hastings, Langwarrin Park, Somerville, Somerville Rise, Wallaroo, Mornington Special Development School, Eastbourne, Tootgarook and Rosebud primary schools.
Heather Christie, who coordinates the breakfasts at Mornington Park Primary school with colleague Russell Ardley, said the program was “fabulous”.
“Every day we feed 40-60 children their choice of cereals, fresh and tinned fruit, and cooked meals including eggs, hash browns, pancakes and waffles,” she said.
“There is always the choice of hot or cold meals including cheese and tomato toast or baked beans.”
The 15-year-old service runs five days a week ensuring the pupils always start their day the right way. Ms Christie runs the program Mondays and Fridays, while Mr Ardley is in charge Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
She praised the help of long-time supporters Jacobs and Lowe Real Estate, whose staff donate fruit and help out Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Mornington Woolworths, which donates bread on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“Other helpers include the Mornington Lions Club, Bunnings, Mornington Community Information and Support Centre, along with some amazing individuals who give freely of their time. They must all be recognised,” Ms Christie said.
Parents also help the program run smoothly. “If parents want to sit with their children while they are having breakfast they are most welcome anytime,” she said.
Education Minister James Merlino said since the program started, teachers had noted improved concentration in class, improved attendance and better relationships with their students.
Mr Merlino said research in 2017 found 87 per cent of schools believed the program was meeting the breakfast needs of their pupils – up from 43 per cent prior to the program starting.