Hilton breakfast club forced shut

A BREAKFAST club which kept kids from going to school hungry has closed down in Hilton, leading to a scramble to find a replacement.

The breakfast club was run through the Fremantle PCYC, but a $100,000 grant from the Fremantle Foundation in 2018 has now run out and a new funding source hasn’t been found. 

Timo is one of the parents from Hilton Primary School who regularly used the program, and says that as a single dad of two it was a huge relief financially and gave him time to get to work. 

“There wasn’t a single day that the kids didn’t want to go there,” Timo said.

He said his kids were always excited to get there early to play with friends and eat a delicious breakfast.

The club ran every Tuesday and Wednesday morning and kids were offered everything from cereal and scrambled eggs to pancakes when they otherwise might have gone without.

“As my son got the news that their money ran out, he came home and asked if he may open his piggy bank so that he could pay for it and keep breakfast club running,” Timo said.

“Unfortunately, that won’t be enough. 

“Opportunities like this are so valuable to the community and strengthen the ties.”

A record 223 breakfasts were served by the club’s volunteers In March, who were “absolute stars, friendly and good with the kids” Timo said. 

Hilton Primary School principal Carmel Bochenek said the school was a big supporter of the PCYC and the breakfast club. 

“The breakfast club has been a really positive asset to the community,” Dr Bochenek said.

Fremantle PCYC centre manager Paul Lill said they were “urgently” looking for alternative funding to try and reboot the breakfast club.

Mr Lill said it provided a safe place for the kids who often came hungry, who were then transported to school to increase their attendance. 

Hilton Ward councillor Sam Wainwright said the program’s cancelation could have an impact on kids’ schooling; hungry kids can’t concentrate as easily. 

“There’s been some important progress in recognising the serious issue we face in WA with disadvantaged people left behind, it would be nice if they extend that to this program,” Cr Wainwright said

Hilton resident and Herald foodie Felicity Newman went down to check out the last breakfast in August when she heard the news and says the PCYC staff seemed surprised by the strength of the community backlash.

Ms Newman said while some had queried where the money had been spent, the program was linked to employed youth workers and a bus.

By KEELIE PAATSCH

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