The program sees a rotating roster of 20 students from Years 9 and 10 at San Clemente, preparing and serving breakfast for the students at Waratah West, as well as spending time, playing and chatting with the students.
In the warmer months, the primary students are offered a continental-style breakfast mix of cereal, toast, fruit, milk and juice. Once it cools down and students need warming up, hearty breakfast foods such as porridge and eggs, courtesy of the school chickens, are served.
The experience is one that is mutually beneficial for students from both schools,is a practical example of service for others, and supports San Clemente's Dominican heritage with its emphasis on social justice.
Year 10 San Clemente student, Johanna Soo, enjoys being involved in the program, especially spending time with the children. "Breakfast Club gives me the opportunity to put my faith into practice, and be a part of something that is beneficial to the students at Waratah West," said Johanna.
In January this year, NSW organisation Youth Action released the policy paper, "Reducing Breakfast Skipping by Young People in NSW". The policy reported that around a quarter of young people in NSW miss breakfast on a regular basis, and that breakfast skipping is not solely due to food insecurity or deprivation, with some young people simply choosing to forgo breakfast. The policy paper also reported that young people who skipped breakfast were at a greater risk of being overweight or obese, experiencing metabolic syndromes, poor cognition, mood disruptions and decreased school performance.
San Clemente Science Teacher and Breakfast Club supporter, Mrs Desley Sharman, commented on the importance of breakfast for all students, and the difference she sees in her students if they haven't eaten before class. "Breakfast is necessary fuel for the day," said Mrs Sharman. "I can tell if a student has skipped breakfast, as they are often lethargic and unsettled."
On average, 80% of the students at Waratah West take advantage of the breakfast station, which illustrates the importance of these types of programs in schools. "Many students aren't hungry first thing in the morning, or some children sleep in too late to eat a big breakfast at home, so Breakfast Club gives these children the opportunity to eat before class or for some, have a second breakfast," said Mrs Sharman.
Breakfast Club is possible due to the support of the community and a range of local businesses including Charles Webster and Bakers Delight Waratah West.