Bridging the gap between Breakfast Club and remote learning at Sebastapol Primary School

Located on the outskirts of Ballarat South, Sebastapol Primary School has been running Breakfast Clubs since the Program’s launch in 2016 and welcomed the addition of lunch and school holiday supply packs in Term 3, 2019.

Before COVID-19 restrictions were in place, the school welcomed local community members to help facilitate Breakfast Club on-campus.

Michelle Wilson, School Principal, says “before COVID-19 we were running Breakfast Club every morning at 8.30am with around 20 students attending each day. Our volunteers varied from day to day with people from the business, community, church, and government sectors. Our students loved the social aspect of Breakfast Club and valued the relationships with our volunteers.”

“Breakfast Club is also a part of our student leadership program. Dedicated students work closely with community volunteers in a range of tasks including unpacking, display, distribution, and the running of Breakfast Club. Some volunteers have remained mentors for students.”

Michelle says Breakfast Club also encourages positive relationships between students.

“The program promotes social cohesion among students as they share breakfast and conversations before class. It provides children with a caring human connection and helps us ensure they have adequate nutrition for learning throughout the day,” she says.

Around 95 per cent of the school’s students are now learning remotely, with around five students continuing to learn on-campus. While Breakfast Club has been postponed until on-site learning returns, Michelle says maintaining connection with the community is vital.

“Rather than running a Breakfast Club on-campus, we have been using Breakfast Club products and School Holiday Supplies to create food hampers for students and their families. We have been delivering food boxes to parents without a car or driver’s license, as well as holding a drive through collection service where families are invited to come along and collect a hamper to take home with them,” she says.

“The food packs have been able to assist families doing it tough. Many families have faced unemployment, uncertainty with casual roles or are still working full time while supporting their children through remote learning. Since remote learning came into place, we have been able to provide all of our 55 school families with food packs. For those students on-campus, we still host our Fruit Break program where they are invited to come along and enjoy fresh apples and oranges.”

Michelle says the food boxes offer a variety of products including fresh fruit, long life milk, cereal and other essentials required for a balanced diet. She says the School Holiday Supply packs have been a helpful addition to the Breakfast Club products on offer.

“Food insecurity is a real issue in our community, and we are so pleased to have an extensive range of food items available to us. We plan to continue ordering the school holiday packs and checking in on families who have requested additional support and are experiencing food insecurity during COVID-19. Some of our parents have been too anxious to go to the supermarket in fear of falling ill,” Michelle says.

“We look forward to welcoming the students back to campus. We hope to host a big family breakfast as part of our extended wellbeing initiatives when things get back to normal.”

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