Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan): My adjournment matter is directed to the Deputy Premier and Minister for Education, the Honourable James Merlino. The Andrews Labor government is delivering the school breakfast clubs program for our students. Around 20 per cent of students go to school without breakfast at least once a week, and 15 per cent go to school without lunch. I am happy to see that to tackle this issue the Andrews Labor government is expanding the school breakfast clubs program. Research has suggested that students’ ability to concentrate in class, self-regulate and learn are negatively affected if they are hungry. Furthermore, students from low socio-economic backgrounds are significantly more likely to miss breakfast than those from high socio-economic backgrounds. We want to make sure that we are able to help these students get better outcomes from their schooling. The expanded breakfast clubs program addresses the link between disadvantaged students unable to get enough food to sustain them through the day and poorer learning outcomes. The program is a great example of tackling disadvantage so that all children can reach their potential regardless of circumstance, as well as ensuring that Victorian children and young people are happy, healthy and resilient. The action I seek is for the minister to provide an update to my office on how the Andrews Labor government will make sure that this service is delivered to the students most in need in my electorate of Western Metropolitan Region.
Mr MERLINO (Monbulk—Minister for Education) (16 October 2019): The Andrews Labor Government was proud to announce $58 million for the expansion of the School Breakfast Clubs program in the 2019-20 Victorian State Budget. This program was established in 2016, in partnership with Foodbank Victoria and has been supporting students in 500 disadvantaged government primary schools across the state to access healthy and nutritious breakfasts. We know that a child’s ability to concentrate, self-regulate and learn is negatively impacted if they are hungry. It has been reported that the rising cost of living makes it increasingly difficult particularly for low-income families and families living in poverty to provide enough healthy food for all the family each week. The School Breakfast Clubs Expansion Program seeks to address the impact disadvantage can have on educational outcomes by offering free and healthy food for students in 1000 Victorian government schools.
Building on the success of the 2016-19 School Breakfast Clubs Program, the expansion will include:
- delivery of healthy breakfasts in 1,000 primary, secondary, P-12 and specialist schools
- provision of nutritious lunches and holiday food supplies targeted to students in need; and
- delivery of meal preparation and nutrition classes to families at 100 disadvantaged schools.
50 schools across the Western Metropolitan area are already benefiting from the School Breakfast Club program and under the expansion, a further 55 schools from the Western Metropolitan area will be invited to join the program. 125 schools will be added to the School Breakfast Clubs Program each term next year, ensuring more students from families that are experiencing disadvantage have the support they need to succeed at school. I am pleased to advise that 34 schools in the Western Metropolitan area have just been invited to participate in the new program from 2020. A further 21 schools will receive an invitation early in 2020. Schools that currently host the School Breakfast Clubs Program—including Debney Meadows Primary School in Essendon and Stevensville Primary School in Sunbury—will start serving lunches at school and providing holiday supplies to students who need it in term 3 of this year. This expansion of the School Breakfast Clubs program across Victoria means that even more students from disadvantaged families will have the support to fully participate in their learning at school and build happy and healthy lives.