The YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program reached an incredible milestone this year, celebrating more than 7 million free breakfasts served since the program began in 2006.
One thing that has remained constant throughout the program’s 17-year history, however, is its dedication and mission to reducing the number of students disadvantaged by hunger and poor nutrition in schools across Southeast Queensland.
YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program Manager, Amanda Maystone-Towell, said her team is proud of the work they do together “to help over 13,500 children each week”.
Amanda Maystone-Towell (YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program Manager) at the program's warehouse in Kingston.
“Knowing children are attending school, starting classes with a full tummy ready to learn and be engaged with their school community is the most gratifying experience for us,” Amanda said.
“We often stop to consider the impact of what we do and reflect on the value of the social impact to children, families and their futures the Y supports.”
Amanda says research shows “regular and consistent access to healthy breakfast options makes children feel valued and sees them thrive”, with positive impacts on classroom behaviour and academic performance.
“With a full tummy children can focus on their learning and work at hand… rather than feeling defeated when hunger is all that is consuming them,” Amanda said.
“We also know that engaged education creates better positive outcomes for the children, linking this to further education and long-term employment prospects.”
Feedback from school staff also highlights how the program enhances student engagement and school connectedness.
“Relationships with teachers, faculty and their peers, as a whole school community can be stronger,” Amanda said.
The operation and logistics of the YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program is powered by a small, core team of three staff members, four casual delivery drivers and one tireless volunteer “who has been a support for our program since 2012,” Amanda said.
With the generous support of Foodbank Queensland, Clem Jones Group and Club Southside, as well as local sponsors and volunteers, YMCA is able to provide all equipment, food, supplies and delivery at no cost to participating schools.
“We couldn’t do our work without the Donors and Sponsors who support our program,” Amanda said.
While the YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program started with just five schools in Logan in 2006, the program now reaches 169 schools and stretches across South East Queensland.
“We always aim to ‘never say no’ to a school,” Amanda said.
To learn more about the YMCA Schools' Breakfast Program, or to find out how you can volunteer or make a donation, visit ymcabrisbane.org/services/schools-breakfast-program.