More Western Victorian students will learn on a full stomach with a re-elected Andrews Labor Government to expand the school breakfast program as well as 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 in 500 Victorian primary schools every week. But there is more to do.

More than 217,000 school breakfasts have been delivered across Ballarat over the last four years, while more than 34,000 have been served in the Northern Grampians Shire and more than 33,000 across the Pyrenees Shire.

A further 42,000 breakfasts have been delivered across Ararat Rural City Council and more than 22,000 across Moorabool Shire.

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.

This expansion is on top of Labor’s recent commitment to establish a new Foodbank Hub in Ballarat. 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 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 Labor Candidate for Wendouree Juliana Addison

“Having been a teacher for more than a decade, I can tell you a full tummy means better concentration and better outcomes for every student in the classroom.”

Quote attributable to Labor Candidate for Buninyong Michaela Settle

“As a Breakfast Club volunteer, I’ve seen firsthand how something as simple as a mug of Milo on a cold Ballarat morning can make a big difference to our kids. Only Labor will make sure every child can be their best at school.”

Quote attributable to Labor Candidate for Ripon Sarah De Santis

“That the Liberals want to cut school breakfasts and deprive local kids tells you everything you need to know about their priorities.”

Dan Andrewspolicy41