By Michael Doran
Every Wednesday about 100 students at Healesville High start their day with a healthy breakfast, thanks to dedicated staff and volunteers.
“The only cost to the students is a good morning, a please and a thank-you,” the school’s student well-being manager, Lyn Scotchmoor, said.
“We started the program 10 years ago because we felt there were kids coming to school not having had any breakfast and wanted to do something about it.
“Each week we start at 8am and the students either dash in and grab a toastie or sit down and have a leisurely toastie and milo with their friends.
“It’s a lovely way to start the day for students and staff.”
Ms Scotchmoor said there was always a positive atmosphere in the cafe.
“We rely on donations from local organisations and our past-principal, Ion Whykes, has been a big supporter whose generosity helps us to provide breakfast free to the students,” she said.
For the tenth birthday breakfast on Wednesday 19 September, the usual toasties gave way to egg and bacon rolls, cooked by a group of volunteers from the school community.
In charge of the eggs were Doctor Khoi Bui and Nurse Claire Oettinger from Healesville’s Get Well Clinic.
They are part of the school community through the Doctors in Secondary Schools program, a State Government initiative to give all students access to a weekly GP clinic at school.
“It is nice to see the children in this easy-going environment and for them to see us in a different light, away from the clinic,” Ms Oettinger said.
Nella Lithgow, one of the staff manning the food line, said: “We run the breakfast club on Wednesdays because the kids seem more settled in the middle of the week.”
“It is always around the same number of kids, around a quarter of the school’s students are in here most weeks,” she said.
Kerry Davies, the school’s lab technician, is the third member of the team behind the breakfast club and also said how the relaxed environment helped to build positive connections within the school community.
Breakfast club opens the doors at 7.50am, empties out in a hurry when the bell rings an hour later, and the staff are left to clean up before starting their own work day.
Their enthusiasm for giving students a healthy start to the day is clearly evident and shows no signs of waning as they start their eleventh year.