KickStart Breakfast provides more than just breakfast

KickStart Breakfast is more than just a place where students eat their first meal of the day. Think of it like a breakfast or coffee club us adults usually do, but for kids.

There’s a huge social element to it too. Whilst kick-starting their nutritional journey for the day, students kickstart their socialising and communication skills too.

Thanks to the partnership between Fonterra, Sanitarium and the Ministry of Social Development, the kids get served just the kickstart they need for their day of school.

The programme, which has been running since 2009, is designed to positively impact child well-being through providing access to nutritious food at school.

Birdwood School Principal, Jenny Bernard says "The kids here have all their stories about animals, and home, mums and days, jobs… you know whose working where… what they’re doing in the classroom. So it’s very much a social kind of event. Kids come in, they share the food together and talk about what’s happening, you know, it’s a bit like a coffee club, and when you go to a coffee club, you talk."

The key to the success of the programme lies with those volunteers who turn up every morning - members of the community, school staff and students who give up their time to help out. Birdwood School Coordinator Kristina Finau says every kid she has seen in her three years of doing the program benefits.

"We’re teaching them to have a healthy breakfast every morning instead of pies and fizzy drinks which is good."

This year, KickStart Breakfast celebrated a milestone, serving up their 40 millionth breakfast. KickStart Breakfast spokesperson Trinity Parlane says the program which has been running since 2009 has been so successful, it's now been rolled out across all decile schools.

"It wouldn’t be possible without the support of Fonterra farmers, Sanitarium, the Ministry of Social Development, and the school staff and community members that help bring this to life every day for the kids."

Parlane says that’s why it’s more than just breakfast.

"It’s really important for our school because it’s more than just breakfast. Breakfast not only gives energy to children and fills them up for the day, but it's also a place for students to engage with their community - the likes of staff, the volunteers, whanau, all coming together. At the end of the day food brings people together and that’s what breakfast club is all about."

She says it’s the reason she gets up every day.

"It’s just seeing the kids - their reaction, how happy they are, the impact we’re able to contribute to kids' everyday school life. They’ve got a place to go to when they need a snack, food, see their mates and hang out and connect with the community. That’s what motivates me to do these awesome breakfast clubs - seeing how happy they are."

From improved focus and a great social setting, principal Jenny points out just how important it is for her kids to start their day right.

"When their stomachs are full they’re far more settled in the classroom and they’re ready to take on the day."

There are currently over 1000 schools that take part in the KickStart Breakfast program, with more than 30,000 children attending each week. Finau says because of the success of the program, they now run it every day.

"Before we only used to run for two days and every other day we didn’t have breakfast but the little ones would pop in and say 'do we have breakfast this morning?' Jenny [The Principal] was really good and said 'can we run it five days?' and we did, and so all the little ones pop in and have breakfast every morning and they’re always looking forward to that. It’s really exciting."

This article was created for Fonterra