Published On: 23 July 2021Categories: Stories

A third of Tasmanian children never have breakfast before school according to a 2016 Heart Foundation report, Dishing up the Facts: Going Without Healthy Food.

A 2021 UTAS report shows almost one-in-five Tasmanians need food support.

The Is Food Security the New Normal? report also shows only 5% of those who need help actually seek support from organisations such as Loaves and Fishes Tasmania.

Contrary to popular belief, younger age groups are more affected by food insecurity than older demographics.

Loaves and Fishes Tasmania supports more than 50 school meals programs statewide, including 16 managed by school chaplains in the North West. Thousands of students are fed each week through the programs.

Loaves and Fishes provides fruit, cereal, bread, muffins, toasted sandwiches, pancake mix, juice, milk and water.

About eighty to 100 children take advantage of free breakfast at Devonport Primary School, a joint initiative of Loaves and Fishes and Devonport Chaplaincy.

Breakfast demand increasing

Devonport Primary School chaplain Sharon Webber (pictured) said demand for the service had increased since the COVID-19 pandemic, but the service had dropped back from four days to three due to a lack of volunteers. She said the school had widely promoted the Food for Thought program as being available to all pupils, removing any stigma from those who drop by.

There is an ease and comfort as students drop by to graze in a frantic 15 to 20-minute feeding frenzy before the bell goes to start class.

“Half would say they slept in and didn’t have time for breakfast, but there are others you know don’t get breakfast.”

“When I first started there were kids who didn’t have any lunch and I’d be in the kitchen making toasted sandwiches, but that seems to have dropped off.”

The program stoped temporarily during COVID lockdown, resuming with just Sharon due to a ban on volunteers.

Phil giving back

Real estate agent Phil Matthews has been volunteering at breakfast club for six years. He first heard about the program when he was in leadership at of Vos Construction and Joinery.

“I’ve done well working in the Devonport community all my life and I’m happy to be able to give something back to young people,” Phil said.

“It’s easy to give money, but much harder to do something like getting out of bed on a cold morning.”


By Paul O’Rourke

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