Breakfast gets them off to a better start

THE Red Cross Good Start Breakfast Club has arrived in Coffs Harbour and will be giving children at Tyalla Primary School a healthy breakfast at school from today.

It is the second school on the Mid North Coast to offer this service, after Kempsey West Primary School joined the program last school term.

The Good Start Breakfast Club is a Nutrition and Food Security Program run by Red Cross with the aim to help students start the day well and concentrate better in the classroom.

There are currently more than 220 Good Start Breakfast Clubs at schools Australia-wide, serving more than 650,000 meals each year.

Tyalla Primary principal Sue Mackay is a great fan of the program.

“One of the key reasons the school became involved is because the program is open for whole school participation. Any child in the school at breakfast time can drop-in, enjoy the meal and the social interaction,” she said.

“Breakfasts are something we've been keen to introduce at Tyalla Primary School for some time, as teachers were noticing some students were 'fading,' becoming distracted and less focussed at the same time each day.

“Our canteen started to offer toast at a nominal fee each morning, but we wanted to do more, as growing children need more than just a couple of slices of toast to keep them alert until lunchtime.”

Red Cross reports that many nutritionists consider breakfast to be the most important meal of the day. It assists children's physical, mental and emotional development. Children who miss breakfast are less able to concentrate, are more prone to fidgeting and find learning difficult by mid-morning.

There is also evidence to suggest that children who miss out on a healthy breakfast are more likely to suffer from obesity later in life.

Surprisingly, as many as 25 per cent of Australian children regularly miss breakfasts, and children from lower socio-economic backgrounds are six times more likely to do without this meal than others, according to research accessed by Red Cross.

Mandy Hughes, the local co-ordinator of the Red Cross Youth Programs, said aside from the obvious improvements in nutrition and classroom behaviour of students eating at school breakfast clubs, schools also reported the positive social interaction taking place around the table.

“Students are also encouraged in their independence to butter their own toast, pour milk and juice, clear their dishes away and use good manners,” Ms Hughes said.

“The volunteer team receive training in how to promote good nutrition to the students and all the food offered; cereals, milk, wholemeal bread, diluted fruit juice and fruit salad are healthy choices for children at breakfast.”

The Tyalla Primary School Good Start Breakfast Club has been made possible by the support of the Red Cross, including the local Coffs Harbour branch, local businesses which have donated generously and a volunteer team from the school and wider community.

Anyone who may be interested in sponsoring the breakfast club with donations particularly of fruit and other breakfast products or money, or who would like to volunteer some time to serving breakfast, should contact Mandy Hughes on 0409 608 619.

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