More Central Goldfields students will learn on a full stomach with a re-elected Andrews Labor Government to expand the school breakfast program and provide free school lunches to 1,000 schools across the state.

One in seven kids arrive at school with an empty stomach, making it hard for them to pay attention in class and get the most out of their education.

That’s why the Andrews Labor Government launched School Breakfast Clubs, which provide 50,000 free breakfasts to 500 Victorian primary schools every week, but there is more to do.

More than 185,000 school breakfasts have already been delivered across Greater Bendigo in the last four years, with more than 57,000 across Central Goldfields, more than 26,000 in Mount Alexander Shire Council and more than 73,000 across Loddon Shire Council.

Labor will expand this into a new program that will serve up a free, healthy breakfast and lunch to students in need at 1,000 Victorian Government primary and secondary schools every school day.

It is estimated that around 10 per cent of children who attend breakfast clubs also come to school with nothing packed for lunch. Often staff will pay for lunch for kids to make sure they have something to eat.

The new lunch program will mainly consist of sandwiches, soup, fruit and vegetables. Similarly, to the School Breakfast Clubs, Labor will work with Foodbank to include locally sourced food.

In contrast, the former Liberal government cut the Education Maintenance Allowance, which went towards supporting local breakfast clubs. All this did was hurt students. Victorians recently saw what could be expected under the Liberals, with the Morrison Liberal Government threatening funding cuts for the Foodbank Program.

In addition to introducing school lunches, Labor will also provide school holiday backpacks with breakfast supplies to students in need and deliver a series of cooking masterclasses at 100 schools to share nutritional and meal preparation advice and information with families who are struggling. This will help make sure that even outside school hours, kids are getting the healthy diet they need to be their best.

Research has shown that since Labor’s School Breakfast Program started, nine out of ten teachers have seen improved student concentration, while six out of ten teachers have noted improved attendance and more than eight out of ten teachers said they now had better relationships with their students.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford

“When the Liberals cut Free Fruit Friday, leaving thousands of Victorian kids hungry, it spoke volumes about their agenda.

“Make no mistake, if they are given the chance they’ll cut school programs again – cuts to breakfast clubs, to the school uniform program and to helping kids go on school camps and excursions.”

Quote attributable to Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan

“By ensuring every student has everything they need to be their best, Labor is making sure no child is left behind.”

Quote attributable to Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards

“Our School Breakfast Clubs are making a profound difference to local kids, local families and local schools. But under the Liberals this vital program will be on the chopping block.”

Quote attributable to Labor Candidate for Ripon Sarah De Santis

“Teachers have told us School Breakfast Clubs are making an enormous difference. A re-elected Labor government will make sure even more kids in need can benefit.”

Dan AndrewsPolicy42