It would be easy to assume that in a country like Australia with boundless resource and opportunity, that every child not only can go to school, but that all of them will have ready access to food for their lunch boxes, snacks for recess or morning tea or money for a lunch order at the school canteen. Yet, for a staggering number of Australian households, this isn’t the case.
According to Foodbank Australia, four million Australians have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months. One in five children go to school without breakfast, 11 per cent go to bed without dinner and nine per cent go all day without food at least once a week.
For some years now, CityCare, in partnership with Foodbank has been committed to supporting vulnerable children and youth by providing wholesome and nutritious breakfast foods and snacks to at-risk schools.
In more recent times, our school chaplains and welfare officers has revealed that this alarming vulnerability now extends to an increasing number of at-risk high school students who have fled their unsafe home environments and are living independently of their families. Some of them are couch surfing at friends or relatives’ homes, sleeping in garages or local youth refuges but the majority are still committed to attending to school and completing their education.
Out of a desire to contribute to the welfare of these youth and offer practical assistance, the Schools Open Pantry initiative was founded which provides a single-door pantry or school locker to a local school with at-risk students. This is housed in a safe space within the school and is continually stocked with non-perishable single serve foods that vulnerable youth can access with confidence and confidentiality, things like two-minute noodles, fruit cups, biscuits, breakfast bars and Cup-A-Soups.
Providing food relief in this way for vulnerable students, helps to improve their health and ability to concentrate on their studies and restores dignity.
It is thanks to the continued generosity of our church and our partners such as Foodbank and Oz Harvest and at-risk schools, CityCare will be rolling this program out to all the schools we are working in across Australia, enabling us to create an avenue to see our youth resilient, confident, connected and empowered.
As part of our Sisterhood October Fight Club Month we are receiving donations of non-perisahble food items for our School Pantries across Australia during the first week of October.
If you’d like to contribute, please bring your items to the CityCare stand at Sisterhood at your local campus on Thursday 3 October.
Items to bring:
Up & Go Liquid Breakfast Drinks
2-Minute Noodle packs or cups
Single Tinned Tuna
Mini Popcorn packs
*All items need to be individually packaged for consumption