More North East Victorian students will be able to 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 free breakfasts to 500 Victorian primary schools every week, but there is more to do.

Across North East Victoria we have seen thousands of school breakfasts delivered, including: 183,000 in Greater Shepparton, 10,000 in Strathbogie, 92,000 in Moira, 33,000 in Benalla, 44,000 in Wangaratta, 17,000 in Indigo, 12,000 in Alpine, 26,000 in Wodonga, and 15,000 in Towong.

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 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 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 of 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

“The previous government cut Free Fruit Friday, leaving thousands of kids hungry and that tells Victorians everything they need to know about the Liberal’s priorities.”

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

Quote attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes

“We can’t expect kids to concentrate in class on an empty stomach. That’s why we set up free School Breakfast Clubs - and that is why we will expand the program to provide two square meals a day to kids who need it.”

Quote attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp

“Our School Breakfast Clubs have served up millions of breakfasts to Victorian kids, and teachers are seeing the enormous difference it makes.”

Quote attributable to Labor Candidate for Euroa Fionna Deppeler Morton

“Labor wants to see every child reach their full potential. That’s why we’ll expand this program to the families that need it most.”

Quote attributable to Labor Candidate for Shepparton Bill Heath

“Sadly there are some kids who come to school without eating and that has a big impact on how they learn. Expanding this program will only help more kids focus in class.”

Quote attributable to Labor Candidate for Ovens Valley Kate Doyle

“The contrast couldn’t be clearer – while the Liberals cut the programs our students need, Labor gets on with expanding them.”

Dan AndrewsPolicy42