Nourish and flourish

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8 March 2023

breakfast club at St Anthony'sAs part of a strategic commitment to building a thriving community and disrupting disadvantage, CatholicCare Victoria works closely with teachers and families of St Anthony’s School, Melton South, to find opportunities to support all young people in their education and in Melton more broadly.

In December 2019, nine St Anthony’s School families participated in a workshop with CatholicCare to discover opportunities to support children and families at their school.

One of the ideas resulting from this workshop was a breakfast club for students. Breakfast is often described as the most important meal of the day, especially for younger children with developing brains.

The regularity of wholesome, daily meal patterns comprising healthy foods is important for the physical and mental development of children and adolescents. School breakfast programs are becoming increasingly popular to support children and families facing food insecurity, and to enable opportunities for social connection and other support.

‘We believe that providing breakfast will also help improve children’s readiness to learn, engagement with their school, and concentration and memory in the classroom’, said Ruth Knight, Manager Strategic Projects at CatholicCare Victoria.

St Anthony’s School’s wellbeing team had observed that there were children regularly starting their school day without breakfast and so this idea evolved into the ‘Nourish and Flourish’ program. Nourish and Flourish covers three related wellbeing programs – one being the breakfast club. ‘The breakfast club is open to all St Anthony’s students two days per week, and is attracting between 190 and 240 students each morning’, said Ruth. ‘A key principle of any school breakfast program is that it is free and available to all students at the school, to reduce stigma.’

The Nourish and Flourish program is supported by a paid coordinator, as well as teaching staff and volunteers. CatholicCare provided seed funding for the coordinator role, and leveraged professional expertise and connections for the program design and implementation phase. This included help to source community funding partners. ‘We now have a number of local businesses funding the Nourish and Flourish breakfast club’, said Ruth.

St Anthony’s School has not been eligible for a government-funded breakfast program, but by leveraging CatholicCare Victoria funding and other supports, the school is helping to meet this need for families.