Every single student at some small schools in remote Australian communities needs their school to provide them with food so they have enough to eat.
On average across Australia, there has been a 40 per cent increase in students coming to school without breakfast and lunch in the past 12 months, according to the Feed Appeal, which raises money to help charities feed more people in need.
In some schools, teachers are buying food for students with their own money.
Feed Appeal chief executive Katherine Gokavi-Whaley said about 70 per cent of those currently seeking food relief were doing so for the first time because they were experiencing economic hardship* because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“COVID-19 has seen an increasing number of people seeking help to feed their families for the first time,” she said.
Ms Gokavi-Whaley said many Australians were surprised to learn that one in eight students across the nation go to school without breakfast and/or lunch.
“Unfortunately, the average number impacted in rural and regional communities is one in four students,” she said. “In some of the really remote communities, we’ve even had a handful of schools that said, ‘Look, we’re basically feeding everybody’, because none of the students is coming to school with meals.
“For some students, the meals they are getting at school are probably the only guaranteed meal that they have.”
Teachers report that those who don’t have enough to eat have greater difficulty concentrating, learning and managing their behaviour, feel stressed, upset and socially isolated and often appear unwell.