A group of Lincoln University students have been visiting a low-decile Halswell school every Tuesday over the past few months to cook breakfast for the pupils.
Now they are looking for a supermarket wholesaler to support the project so they can continue running the programme for at least a year.
Future Leader scholar Sally Terry says she and her fellow scholars decided to establish a breakfast club at Rowley Avenue School while they were brainstorming ideas for projects to work on as part of their scholarship programme.
“The conversation turned to the topic of lower socioeconomic groups and we were talking about how parents are often so busy working, they don’t have the time or funds to teach children healthy eating habits,” she says.
“So we decided to choose a low-decile school and work at initiating change by cooking with the children and teaching them that porridge, yogurt and fruit can be really yummy. We also want to show how affordable it is – that it’s cheaper than a box of sugary cereal.
“If you’re eating well, you have a healthy body and a healthy mind and that can fuel a child for life.”
Sally says she approached the Ministry of Education for a list of low-decile schools and the scholars chose Rowley Avenue, as it is close to Lincoln University. They decided to trial the project, which they have called Fuel for Life, with a year 4 class.
“Some of the children attend school with no shoes on,” she says. “It’s such an eye-opener and makes me so appreciative of the good things I have.
“We’re hoping to be able to make it a sustainable project, and if we get enough funding, we’d like to run it for an entire year.”
Sally says the long-term goals are to establish relationships with the local supermarket and food wholesalers and find student leaders who attend the school to take over the running of the programme.
“For the first four weeks of the programme, we were lucky to be able to use a $100 voucher given to us by New World. Now we’re looking to form a partnership with supermarket wholesalers.”
The scholars arrive at the school at 7.30am each Tuesday, with electric frying pans and other kitchen equipment, along with enough food to feed a large group of pupils.
After cooking and serving breakfast, they play music and games with the children before leaving them to their lessons.
“Some of the pupils bring older and younger brothers and sisters to the breakfast club, so it’s a great family atmosphere,” Sally says. “We have such an awesome time with the kids each week. I’m buzzing all day after I’ve been there.”
Each week, the scholars ask the children what they want to eat the next Tuesday, and their requests have become more nutritious over time.
“To begin with, they wanted fast food, but now they ask for things like apple and oat pancakes, so they seem to be getting a taste for healthier foods,” Sally says.