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Children offered breakfast to start school day

May 2007

Children offered breakfast to start school day

New Zealand Red Cross is taking steps to ensure Kiwi kids get a healthy breakfast before they start the school day.

Today, World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, marks the official start of New Zealand’s Red Cross Breakfast in Schools programme.

Supported by Countdown supermarkets, New Zealand Red Cross is offering primary schools throughout the country the opportunity to take part in Red Cross Breakfast in Schools.

Red Cross Breakfast in Schools is being offered to all decile one primary schools that don’t already provide a similar nutrition-based breakfast programme. The new programme is an addition to New Zealand Red Cross’ targeted community programmes aimed at assisting those who can’t always help themselves.

“It’s widely acknowledged that children with full tummies find it easier to concentrate and have a better chance of fulfilling their learning potential,” says Red Cross Breakfast in Schools national programme manager, Patrick Cummings.

“In an ideal world we wouldn’t need to take up this challenge. However, the reality is there are children in New Zealand who are arriving at school hungry which has resulted in a group of vulnerable people within our society. Children have a basic right to adequate daily nutrition. Our role as a humanitarian organisation is clear; we’re taking action to make a difference to the lives of these vulnerable children.”

Countdown general manager Leon van Rensburg says there is a definite need for the programme.

“We supported the New Zealand Red Cross pilot last year which confirmed the need for a breakfast in schools programme. Feedback from parents and the two schools involved was positive and we now look forward to extending the programme nation-wide.

“Supporting this Red Cross programme is a natural link for Countdown. Our nation-wide network of stores is well placed to meet the food needs of the participating schools at a local level,” Mr van Rensburg says.

With Countdown’s support to provide food for the breakfast programme, New Zealand Red Cross has committed to offering a nationally co-ordinated, sustainable long term programme that meets the needs of the community.

“Red Cross Breakfast in Schools runs in partnership with primary schools that hope to eliminate the distractions empty stomachs can bring to the classroom and who want to help their students reach their full learning potential,” says Mr Cummings.

“New Zealand Red Cross, in partnership with participating schools, coordinates the volunteers who are responsible for delivering the food to schools from Countdown supermarkets and overseeing the programme at a local level. Schools provide the equipment and facilities to store, prepare and serve breakfasts each morning.”

East Tamaki Primary School in Auckland is the first school to officially participate in Red Cross Breakfast in Schools with more schools expected to follow soon. East Tamaki Primary School began the pilot programme on World Red Cross Red Crescent Day last year and today celebrates its first anniversary of taking part.

BACKGROUNDER

Red Cross Breakfast in Schools programme Background information

Introduction Red Cross Breakfast in Schools is a New Zealand Red Cross community service delivery programme that offers children attending decile one primary schools throughout New Zealand the opportunity to eat a healthy breakfast before they start school. The programme is a face-to-face, friendly approach to providing a healthy, nutritious breakfast and encouraging healthy eating behaviours.

How it works New Zealand Red Cross is supported by Countdown supermarkets to provide breakfast to children in those decile one primary schools that choose to participate in the programme.

New Zealand Red Cross’ role, in partnership with the participating schools, is to co-ordinate the daily operation of Red Cross Breakfast in Schools by selecting and training volunteers, ensuring sufficient breakfast supplies are available and monitoring and evaluating the programme.

Volunteers will ideally be drawn from the school’s local community. Volunteer selection includes undertaking a recruitment process and relevant training. Volunteers will assist in serving breakfast each morning at the participating schools that choose to offer it.

Participating primary schools provide the resources to serve and prepare breakfast. These include a room where breakfast can be served and all equipment necessary such as plates and bowls. Where a school is unable to provide the equipment, New Zealand Red Cross will consider its needs on a case by case basis.

For Red Cross Breakfast in Schools to be successful, it is important that the participating school makes a strong commitment to the programme.

All breakfast food is supplied by local Countdown supermarkets. In areas where there isn’t a Countdown supermarket, Woolworths (also owned by Progressive Enterprises) will provide the food.

Pilot Programme In 2005, New Zealand Red Cross undertook a vulnerability and capacity assessment (VCA) study, based on an international Red Cross model, in the Northland region. The study aimed to provide evidence-based guidance for the future provision of community programmes that fulfil the Movement’s rules and assist to reduce suffering to the people of New Zealand.

The VCA recognised a small number of ‘gaps’ in which New Zealand Red Cross might become involved in addressing need. One such area was that of hungry school children. The research indicated that of the children going to school hungry, children from lower decile schools featured most prominently. The VCA concluded that at least 10% of students in the schools studied would likely participate in a breakfast programme.

A Ministry of Health survey (2002)[1] concluded there were high percentages of children aged between five to 14 who sometimes or always ate nothing before school. This research, coupled with the VCA, indicated to New Zealand Red Cross that the problem was one of national significance and there was an obvious area of vulnerability within the community that was not currently being addressed in a broad and co-ordinated manner.

New Zealand Red Cross’ Northern/Midland region was nominated to conduct a pilot breakfast in schools programme to ascertain if the programme should become another Red Cross community service delivery programme, and if it should be operated on a national basis. Red Cross worked closely with Manukau City Council to initiate the pilot.

Koru School and East Tamaki Primary School became involved in the pilot programme in 2006. The results of the pilot, independently assessed by researchers from the University of Auckland, found the response from both the students and the staff indicated a continued need for the programme.

As a result of the pilot, East Tamaki Primary School is the first school to officially offer the Red Cross Breakfast in Schools programme in 2007.

Schools Red Cross Breakfast in Schools is currently offered to decile one primary schools. After the programme is fully integrated nationally, and providing it is achieving its aims, the programme may be extended.

Volunteers People wishing to volunteer their time are encouraged to contact their nearest Red Cross Service Centre. See www.redcross.org.nz for contact details.

Food Progressive Enterprises, through its Countdown supermarkets, is well placed to support Red Cross Breakfast in Schools with a network of stores nationwide. The company’s support for the programme is a philanthropic effort to help vulnerable children in an area in which the company operates – food.

Countdown supermarkets provide the following for Red Cross Breakfast in Schools: Wheat biscuit cereal Milk Wheatmeal bread Variety of spreads Cocoa

ENDS


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