Fonterra farmers have been helping out our communities, one of the ways is through our KickStart Breakfast programme.
The programme was developed in 2008 after we found 10% of our children were attending school without breakfast causing an impact on their learning ability and performance.
We knew this was something we could help with, but it would be a big challenge and something we couldn’t do on our own. Luckily there are other businesses in New Zealand that care about the health and wellbeing of our future generations as much as we do.
In 2009 we partnered with Sanitarium to provide Anchor milk and Weet-Bix twice a week to decile 1-4 schools. This was a good start, but we wanted to see if we could do more for our tamariki. In 2013 the Government came on board, enabling KickStart Breakfast to be extended to all New Zealand schools, five days a week.
Now, over 1,000 schools are involved and more than 30,000 children attend a KickStart Breakfast Club every school day. Schools report that since they have been part of the programme they have noticed an improvement in concentration and children are more settled in class.
For us it’s a good example of our new strategy in action as we look to measure success against a triple bottom line that includes healthy people – by this we mean supporting our communities, forging strong relationships and making valuable nutrition.
But those are only some of the benefits. The community partnership model used to deliver the breakfasts brings with it many others. Schools provide a space for their breakfast club along with bowls, cutlery and the all-important volunteers. This means each school can run the club as best fits their students’ and community needs.
Schools have created safe and welcoming spaces that are full of encouragement and care, giving kids a positive start to their day. Time and again, we hear how the breakfast clubs have helped create a sense of community among students and strengthened the ties with parents and locals beyond the school gate.
Fittingly, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary, the Prime Minister visited Panama Road School in the Auckland suburb of Mt Wellington, a decile one primary school that was among the initial 200 schools to join in 2009. Approximately 120 tamariki attend the brekky club every school morning and one community member Whaea Tangi, has been volunteering and supporting the club for all those years.
Okaihau Primary School in Northland was also one of the first schools to come onboard in 2009. A team of ‘Aunties’ who volunteer not only serve the brekkies but help with homework, ask how the kids are doing and reinforce things like good manners.
Buller High School joined in 2013 and their club is open to all students, siblings, parents and grandparents in the area. The school runs barista training and L3 Trades courses in hospitality and those students get hands-on experience through the club. They serve coffees to adults who drop in as well as prepping and serving other meals at the club.
Northcote Primary in Christchurch joined last year, serving breakfast three times a week. At least a quarter of the school’s students attend. A low decile school, the club has helped ease the financial pressures faced by some while parents and pre-schoolers sometimes attend helping build stronger links with the parent community.
The initial aim of providing a nutritious breakfast for kids who might otherwise not get that has been achieved. But, what has exceeded expectations are the communities in and out of the schools that have developed from the breakfast clubs and some of the intangible qualities that have come with that – care, nurturing, confidence and connection. We feel fortunate (and a little proud) to be playing a role in these communities.
Mike Cronin is the Managing Director Co-operative Affairs, where he oversees Food Safety, Health and Regulatory, Governance, Risk and Audit, Farm Source, Sustainability, Global Stakeholder Affairs, Maori Strategy, Communications, Legal, and Purpose teams.