OFFICIALLY extending breakfast club offerings to include lunch at Sebastopol Primary School was personally important for Michaela Settle.
The Buninyong MP has been a long-time volunteer in the school's breakfast program and has seen first-hand the difference it could make in helping ready children to learn.
Sebastopol Primary will be one of the first schools to offer a new lunch program this term under a $58 million menu expansion confirmed by Education Minister James Merlino on Thursday. The program will also include holiday hampers for families.
Ms Settle, who made an extra visit to Sebastopol Primary on Thursday, has been volunteering at breakfast for about three years.
"We all know kids learn better on a full tummy and this program has been incredibly successful...I've seen it first-hand," Ms Settle said.
"They come in, they need something warm and yummy in their tummy and they're off to learn."
Ms Settle said there were often children who also came to school without lunch as well.
She said a Victoria University study on the breakfast program found 95 of teachers said they could see a lift in concentration among pupils who took part in the program.
Breakfast club has been in 500 primary schools since 2016. The state government expansion, which was a pledge for the November election, will roll out to a further 500 schools and now also reach secondary students by the end of next year.
Warrenheip primary, Mount Clear College, Mount Rowan secondary, Woodman's Hill secondary and the new Lucas-based primary will be added to the program.
Ms Settle said one in seven pupils arrive to school having not had breakfast.
More than 12 per cent of Ballarat residents experience food insecurity, according to a Ballarat Community Health report released last year. Of those who access food welfare in Ballarat, about 75 per cent had gone one to two days without eating each week.
READ MORE: 'You get used to going to bed hungry'
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