Initiative keeps children and their families on track
An initiative which began as a desire to help children who were missing out on breakfast has developed in to a service providing families with daily meals.
Goodstart Smithfield, in South Australia, partnered with Foodbank, an organisation which acts to provide food for charities and community groups who feed the hungry.
Food, including fresh fruit and vegetables, crackers and cans of soup, is delivered to the centre weekly, and families are welcome to take what they need.
Now, the centre has taken the initiative a step further, saving food from their lunchtime service and repackaging it as take-home dinners.
Goodstart Smithfield centre director Vanessa Coles said the food was “flying off the shelves”.
“We had identified some behavioural issues in some of our children and we realised there was a need driving this behaviour,” Ms Coles said.
Through conversations with families, Ms Coles discovered many families had no spare money to provide breakfast or substantial dinners for their children. As part of the centre’s aim to enhance outcomes for children in vulnerable circumstances, she wanted to provide breakfast to all our families irrespective of what time they arrive at care.
“We also wanted to prepare meals to support our families who are not financially able to provide this for their children, work long hours or are time poor.”
Breakfast is offered at 6.30am but continues until 9am in the under two-year-old room, with a station set up until morning tea is offered.
“The food is really flying out the door,” Ms Coles said. “Many of the children love having a look to see what’s there at the end of the day, and packet of rice crackers can tide them over nicely until they have dinner,” she said.
“In the afternoons, we have about five to 20 meals in the fridge a day depending on how much we have left over at lunchtime and looking in to applying for some grants to extend this. We always keep some aside for the more vulnerable children to make sure they are getting a good dinner,” Ms Coles said.
A Foodbank Hunger Report reveals one in six Australians have experienced food insecurity at least once in the past year. Thirty two per cent of the children going hungry are children.
Ms Coles said the initiative had boosted the centre, with lots of feedback from the families. She said the next initiative on the agenda was to refurbish the centre’s bus to pick up and drop off children.
“Our plan is ensure that everyone feels welcome and safe here,” Ms Coles said. “We want to ensure that no one misses out, that everyone is catered for and looked after and the food program and bus will do that.
“Ensuring the children are well fed is really helping with some of the difficult behaviours we’ve seen in the past. We’re not trying to make parents feel they are not doing a good job, we are just trying to help others in a holistic way and give the children a nutritional meal. “