Models of school breakfast program implementation in Western Australia and the implications for supporting disadvantaged students

Susan M. Hill, Matthew F. Byrne, Elizabeth Wenden, Amanda Devine, Margaret Miller, Henrietta Quinlan, Donna Cross, Judy Eastham, Miranda Chester

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A substantial body of literature points to the educational and social benefits of school breakfast programs. Most high-income countries provide free or subsidized school breakfasts to support disadvantaged children. Australia does not have a nationally-funded school meal program. Instead, charitable organizations offer school breakfast programs on a voluntary basis, often with funding support from state/territory governments. Decisions about participating in a school breakfast program (SBP), which students to support, and the degree of integration with other strategies to support disadvantaged students are made at the school level. This large-scale, multi-year study examined models of SBP implementation in Western Australian (WA) schools and stakeholder perceptions of the impact of SBPs at the classroom and whole school level. Findings indicate that the approaches adopted by WA schools reflect the extent to which SBPs are part of an integrated approach to supporting disadvantaged students. Minimalist approaches were evident where the focus was limited to alleviating hunger. More inclusive, resource -intensive models were apparent where the SBP was positioned within a whole school approach to student wellbeing and/or community capacity-building. All schools reported benefits for disadvantaged students, how-ever, the social benefits of SBPs that manifested at the classroom and whole school level were more pronounced in schools that had adopted more integrated, whole school approaches. The findings have implications for Australian schools and other countries that seek to optimize the role of SBPs to provide more holistic support for vulnerable students and reduce the impact of social and economic disadvantage.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106770
Number of pages15
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


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