28 March 2023

Five schools chosen to pilot free meals program

| Claire Fenwicke
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minister for education Yvette Berry and school students

The Meals in Schools program will be piloted at both primary and high schools. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

Students at five ACT public schools will now have access to free breakfast and lunch three days a week as part of a trial program.

Gilmore Primary School, Richardson Primary School, Narrabundah Early Childhood School, Gold Creek School (high school campus) and Melba Copland Secondary School senior campus (years 10-12) will take part in the $1.462 million Meals in Schools pilot, a 2020 ACT Labor election commitment.

Education Minister Yvette Berry said there would be a range of different options for students.

“The Meals in Schools pilot will be delivered in collaboration with school communities, including Parents & Citizens Associations,” Minister for Education Yvette Berry said.

“Teachers, students, parents and carers will have the opportunity over the next few months to help design delivery of the pilot in their school, to ensure it meets the needs of their school community.”

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The pilot will run for 18 months, with rollout beginning from Term 3 of this year.

It will be delivered in collaboration with the school communities, including Parents & Citizens Associations.

Ms Berry said it was all about making sure children and young people were able to learn to their full potential.

“National and international research shows that students benefit from access to healthy and nutritious food at school,” she said.

“It improves students’ learning and well-being, gives them a better understanding of nutrition and increases their satisfaction with school.”

Student uptake of the service will be tracked through an independent evaluation process to study the impact of free school meals on student satisfaction and the effectiveness of food delivery.

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Another initiative that minimises parental and individual responsibility. Surely schools have more pressing issues.

GrumpyGrandpa9:42 pm 28 Mar 23

For various reasons kids are rocking up to school without having had breakfast and maybe some without any lunch.
I don’t know how this program will be run, however, my concern is that the kids getting the free feed, may not be those from families doing it tough, but simply kids too lazy or undisciplined to get out of bed at eat breakfast at home.
Some years ago, a friend of mine was involved in a charity-run breakfast program at a primary school. The numbers having breakfast varied depending on what was being offered, that said, anyone who turned up got a feed, regardless. They measured their success by the number of kids being feed, not by those who were in need, because no one knew who was needy.
At our own son’s school, several kids didn’t eat lunch; not because they didn’t have lunch, it was simply because “mum” made sandwiches they didn’t like, or they’d rather just play with their friends. We know this to be a fact, because these kids dropped their sandwiches in our son’s lunch box and he ate them! Needless to say, the next day, the same thing. Our son put on a lot of weight before we discovered what was happening.
If a kid comes from a family in need, I’m absolutely supportive of assistance, but I can’t help feeling this government program potentially just “enables” undisciplined behavior and encourages a feeling of self-entitlement in our young people.

Jenny Graves5:53 pm 28 Mar 23

I can see the potential benefits of such a scheme. We know that eating a good breakfast (and presumably lunch too) helps with learning outcomes. But the emphasis here is on the word ‘good’. I went to boarding school (many years ago now) and I shudder when I remember the rubbish food that we were fed!

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