Free school breakfast scheme expanded
The Breakfast in Schools initiative Kickstart Breakfast that was introduced in Southland's deciles one to four schools has been hailed as a major success by East Gore principal Wes Gentle.
The programme was brought in to the lower decile schools five years ago, although not all schools eligible had introduced the breakfast.
More than 620 New Zealand schools provide breakfast.
The programme was introduced after research found that almost one fifth of children aged between 5 and 14 went to school regularly without eating or drinking anything for breakfast.
Mr Gentle said the programme at East Gore school was run by a group of volunteers and they had around 20 pupils take part each morning.
Fonterra donated milk to the initiative and Sanitarium had donated Weetbix.
"We are lucky enough to have local businesses donate jam and bread on top of what is supplied," Mr Gentle said.
Mataura Primary was the only other school in the Eastern Southland District that took part and they had been involved for the past five years.
This year would see the initiative available to all schools after the government announced in May the allocation of up to $1.9 million per year.
Fonterra sustainability and social responsibility manager Tom Newitt said the programme had been a major success and the group was now proceeding forward on what else they could do.
With the allocation of the government funding the programme had been expanded to five days a week for the decile one to four schools.
"In Southland, out of all eligible schools, 52 per cent were participating in the programme and all seemed to find great benefit," Mr Newitt said.
Nationally, 76 per cent of school principals had seen improvements in pupils' behaviour and 79 per cent had seen improvements in pupils' general health.
Although the breakfast is supplied it was up to the school to provide the equipment and people to run the breakfast clubs.
The Southland Times