What seems to be a growing number of students at Richlands East State School in Inala and in 173 other schools in Queensland are going to school with either empty lunch boxes or meager, days-old provisions.
This troubling phenomenon is part of a looming crisis that has emerged as a stark consequence of the ever-escalating cost of living. At Richlands East State School, teachers have taken matters into their own hands. Faced with students in need, they have been sharing their own lunches and preparing extra food at home to ensure their students have access to nourishing meals.
At Kairos Community College, located north of Brisbane, nearly all 65 students at their Deception Bay campus are relying on Eat Up for sustenance. It’s a stark reflection of the challenges many families face in these trying times.
Providing a lifeline to these students is the not-for-profit organization, Eat Up, which has been striving to keep pace with the increasing demand for its services.
Lyndon Galea, the founder of Eat Up, reveals a disconcerting trend. There has been a staggering 22% increase in the need for lunch support in schools already enrolled in their programs over the past year.
Furthermore, a daunting waiting list of 69 Queensland schools is seeking urgent funding. The demand for assistance is distributed across metropolitan and regional schools alike.
Questions have arisen about the government’s role in alleviating this crisis. Education Minister Grace Grace remains non-committal about supporting Eat Up directly. Instead, she emphasizes a $2.7 million budget allocation to expand the school breakfast program and other support services.
Critics argue that existing programs are limited in scope. Greens MP Amy MacMahon calls for a more comprehensive approach, asserting that no child should go hungry in a state with a substantial budget surplus.
Despite the challenges, Eat Up perseveres, hosting large volunteering events to prepare thousands of sandwiches. Their tireless efforts, supported by generous corporate donations and philanthropic backers, provide a glimmer of hope for students facing hunger in Inala schools.