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School's Back: No Child Should Go Hungry

As all South Australian students finally return to school today the South Australian Greens have put forward a fully costed plan for free healthy breakfast and lunches. The program would run at every state primary and secondary school in South Australia.

Quotes attributable to Tammy Franks MLC, Greens SA Parliamentary Leader:

“Kids who don’t have lunch or breakfast can find it much harder to concentrate, socialise and learn, with worse educational outcomes as a result. 

“In a wealthy state like South Australia no child should go hungry, but at least 23,350 South Australian kids are living in poverty and according to one study our child poverty rates here in South Australia are increasing at the fastest rate in the country.

“Children can’t learn well if they don’t eat, and right now those 23,350 South Australian kids are living in poverty. As the cost of housing soars, wages stagnate and the Federal Government’s cuts to income support take hold the situation is set to get worse. We can start to turn this around with healthy meals to help them learn and live well.
“The South Australian Greens free school breakfast and lunch program would see massive increases in students’ concentration, ability to socialise, attendance rates and educational outcomes. It would ensure no kid goes hungry and every student gets the best chance in life regardless of their parent’s income. 
After a trial of a free healthy breakfast program in Victoria, Victoria University found 95% of teachers surveyed reported substantial increases in children’s moods, concentration, ability to learn and socialise, with teachers reporting higher grades among the children who attended the free breakfast.

The total cost of the program would be $614 million over the first four years and would be funded and coordinated by the State Government. This cost would cover all staff salaries, foodstuffs, equipment and fittings, transportation and food bought externally, ensuring no school is left worse off. Every state primary and secondary school in South Australia would be required to run the program. In schools where the charity Foodbank Australia is operating their free breakfast program, the State Government would work in coordination with the charity to expand and better resource it. 
The breakfasts and lunches would be required to adhere to the Australian Dietary Guidelines outlined by the Australian Government to ensure every child has access to a healthy breakfast and lunch. Schools would be resourced to accommodate any dietary or cultural requirements.  

The fully costed plan is available here, and more information on how the initiative would be funded can be found here.

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