School Spotlight: Hillsmeade Primary School

Hillsmeade Primary School is a large, multicultural, primary school with 865 students in the Narre Warren South/Berwick area.

Prior to implementing the School Breakfast Clubs Program in Term 2 2020, the school ran an independent Breakfast Club one day a week through the school canteen, with approximately 30 students attending per day. This is supported through staff and parent volunteers and student leaders.

Given the remote learning environment in which schools were operating for most of Term 2 this year, this school came up with some innovative ways to support students and their families.

When school returns to normal operation, they will set up outdoor furniture to create a space similar to an outdoor cafeteria, where students can sit with each other and their families, to enjoy breakfast.

Supporting the community during COVID-19

School Principal Jodie Bray says that with only 20-50 students attending school during Term 2, John Cardamone, of the school Well Being Team suggested making hampers to support families whose children were now unable to access the School Breakfast Club support.

“Staff were really quite upset after some of the phone calls they’d had with our families around them being in financial distress, given the state of COVID and their employment.  Teachers were reaching out and asking what are some of the things that we can do? And John came up with the idea of putting together hampers”, said Jodie.

The school have a structured intervention process and identified vulnerable families that required assistance through a series of tiered well-being checks.

Jodie explained that while the families at Hillsmeade are generally stable in their reported family occupation, they do now have some very vulnerable families due to job losses resulting from COVID-19.

“One of the families who always had regular work, we never thought would need something like this,” she says.

John also mentions that for families with children with challenging behaviors, or those requiring additional care at home, receiving delivered hampers has been greatly appreciated.

They both praise Felicity Pettingill who works in the canteen, who took on making up and distributing 30 hampers per fortnight. She also volunteers her time on a Monday to deliver the hampers because it better suits some families.

The school bought re-usable shopping bags which they filled with all the products supplied by the School Breakfast Clubs Program, including breakfast cereals, milk and lunches. The school have added a personalised message for the families, explaining the food has been provided the through the partnership with Foodbank as part of the School Breakfast Clubs program.

“It’s a little way of saying ‘we’re thinking of you’, from Hillsmeade,” says Jodie.

Jody reports the school loves the variety that the School Breakfast Clubs Program offers, given they were only providing cereal and toast previously, which they funded through their welfare budget. They are planning on introducing a cooked breakfast one day per week, as well as Friday Fruit, where the fruit is distributed amongst the classrooms to support the students to engage in healthy eating.

“We’re really big on supporting the social and emotional learning and the health and wellbeing of our community, so this has just partnered beautifully with that.”

Looking towards Term 3, Hillsmeade Primary School aim to continue to support their school community both with the food hampers and through their School Breakfast Club, in a ‘COVID-safe’ manner.

“We’re really prepared, we have safe work practices within our school, and we’ve mitigated the risks of operating in the canteen, and we’re ready to go” says Jodie.

Read more School Breakfast Club stories