Page 855 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 29 March 2023

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local schools will get free breakfast and lunch on three days a week, under a $1.5 million pilot.

The pilot will be delivered in collaboration with school communities, which will include the P&Cs. Teachers, students, parents and carers will have a chance over the next few months to help to design delivery of the pilot in their school to ensure that it meets the needs of their community. Rollout of the Meals in Schools will begin in term 3 of 2023, with the pilot running for 18 months.

Members will remember that this was ridiculed by the Canberra Liberals when we announced it. However, instead, we are doing the hard and important work of making sure that every kid gets a fair crack at happiness through an equal chance at a great education.

DR PATERSON: Minister, which ACT public schools are participating in the Meals in Schools pilot?

MS BERRY: Thank you for that supplementary. Students at Gilmore Primary School, Richardson Primary School, Narrabundah Early Childhood School, Gold Creek School’s high school campus, and Melba Copland Secondary School’s senior campus will take part in the pilot. The five schools were selected based on a range of factors to capture a broad representation of ACT public schools. Across the five schools, the pilot will reach ACT students from preschool all the way through to year 12. All students in the participating schools will be able to access the free meals, because no child should feel stigmatised for accessing a free meal.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, what difference will free meals in schools make to ACT young people and their families?

MS BERRY: Thank you for that supplementary. This will make a huge difference. Everybody knows you cannot learn to the best of your potential on an empty stomach. This initiative is backed by national and international research that clearly shows the benefits to students from access to healthy and nutritious food at school.

The ACT government understands that when a young person has a full stomach, their education will improve. For parents, free breakfast at school might help to streamline the hectic morning routine. For school communities, free breakfast and lunch will provide the opportunity to enhance a student’s sense of community belonging at a school, and bring students, teachers and others together around the table.

On Monday, I was out at Gilmore Primary School to announce the five schools that are participating in the pilot, and it was a really great chance to pause and chat with some of the students over Weetbix, honey and Milo. The students all agreed that, when they are hungry, having food available is a great idea. The pilot will be independently evaluated to track student uptake, impact on student satisfaction with the school and effectiveness of the school delivery models. We expect we will see improved student wellbeing and learning outcomes through the equity of access to nutritious food.


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