Caroline Davis started a breakfast club in Hikurangi primary school in 2011, assisted by a number of other volunteers. She says:
Poverty in this country is a very real thing. Statistics say that one in four children live below the poverty line in New Zealand. For me, this is unacceptable. I came to a point where I was sick and tired of people talking about the ‘hows and the whys’ of poverty, but doing nothing. Poverty is a complex issue, but one truth will never change. It is never the child’s fault. It has been on my heart to push forward in this area, and I believe that with the right people, a huge impact can be made. Hungry children do not learn. A full tummy however will improve behaviour, learning outcome and over all well being for the children. It gives the less advantaged children a fairer chance of breaking the ongoing poverty cycle.
At the club children are required to ask politely and say please, and afterwards say thank you. They are encouraged to get involved in the set up / clean up (tables chairs etc). They receive praise where it is due. They receive a smile and they are asked how they are. The breakfast club is a place of no discrimination, it is open to ALL children of the school, is it a free / no cost place where kids have a chat and eat together. It is not only for children without breakfast at home, as this causes ostracisation of the poor – so it is available to all. There is no shame in receiving. Caroline and her helpers have seen vast changes in how the children respond and interact, and the principal has noticed a marked improvement in the tone of the school and the overall achievement levels.
The plan is to extend this model to other schools – to have a structure that is able to be used in the setting up, overseeing, funding, and education / support of breakfasts clubs in the country (starting with Whangarei). This will involve:
- Volunteers who take a morning or two a week unpaid, as part of a community effort, working alongside one paid person (minimum wage) who runs each separate schools club on a daily basis, that would equate to 5 hours/ week , per school, every week of the school term.
- Grants would need to be applied for, and / or funds raised, to cover this.
- Both paid workers and volunteers would be eligible to be sent on health and safety and food prep courses – also with the benefit of perhaps getting those who are currently unemployed back in to work – as a stepping stone to get out of the poverty cycle themselves.
- Grants would need to be applied for / funds raised, to cover costs.
- Volunteers and paid persons alike would need to have a police check, and meet requirements set – for the safety of the children, and integrity of the vision.
- Kids-can charity are on board with the current breakfast club in Hikurangi – they will assist with food for lower decile schools – but the vision is not limited to lower decile schools.
- Admin /Travel costs In the future, depending on the work load / travel / growth – to keep everything going smoothly, travel/ admin costs may be something that needs to be discussed and met.
- Health and Safety systems, code of conduct etc to be developed including the requirement for workers to be of sound mind, having done a clear police check, and willing to run the club in an encouraging way.
- To be overseen by Caroline – with all finances run through the HUB Whangarei Trustees.