More Gippsland 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 provides 50,000 breakfast to 500 Victorian primary schools every week, but there is more to do.

We have already delivered more than 730,000 school breakfasts across Latrobe, Wellington, Baw Baw, South Gippsland and East Gippsland council areas over the last fours years.

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. As with to the School Breakfast Clubs, Labor will work with Foodbank to include locally sourced food.

This expansion is on top of Labor’s recent commitment to establish a new Foodbank Hub in Morwell. These new food hubs will expand Foodbank’s critical work, extending its fresh food supply to almost 100,000 families and creating new local jobs.

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 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 ensure 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 Education James Merlino

“When the Liberals cut Free Fruit Friday, leaving thousands of Victorian kids hungry, it showed everything you need to know about their priorities.

“If they are given the chance they’ll cut school programs again – cuts to breakfast clubs, cuts to school uniform support and cuts to helping kids go on school camps and excursions.”

Quote attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Harriet Shing

The contrast couldn’t be clearer – the Liberals will cut and close, while Labor will support local students.”

Quote attributable to Labor Candidate for Morwell Mark Richards

“No one wants to see a child struggle through an entire school day with nothing to eat. That’s why we will invest in two square meals for kids who need it.”

Dan AndrewsPolicy42