The topic of school-provided meals was the focus of a live online jury-style consultation, hosted recently by Flinders University in partnership with the Commissioner for Children and Young People Helen Connolly.
As a part of Anti-Poverty Week, the event comprised a jury considering the question: “Does South Australia need school provided meals?”. It was coordinated by the Flinders University Institute for Mental Health and Wellbeing and Professor Eva Kemps to examine a school lunch program with the Office for the Commissioner of Children.
Arguments for and against school lunches were presented by “expert witnesses” to a group of “jurors” representing key stakeholders to determine the level of support for or against the idea of school-provided meals in SA.
It proved to be a very popular forum, with 110 unique viewers tuning into the session online.
Now in its 20th year, Anti-Poverty Week encourages an increased understanding of poverty and how to take action collectively that will eventually bring poverty to an end. This year’s theme focused on halving child poverty by 2030 – and school-provided meals have been suggested as part of the solution.
School-provided meals are common in many countries, designed to support families experiencing food insecurity, and they have achieved benefits in boosting student attendance, academic performance and nutrition.
However, costs, lack of infrastructure and potential resistance from stakeholders are barriers to having this scheme adopted in South Australia.
Professor Rebecca Golley, along with researchers at the Caring Futures Institute and Commissioner Connolly have recently attracted media coverage for outlining the potential benefits of school provided meals for students and parents, and for encouraging the Education Department to consider introducing a statewide program.