THE BREAKFAST CLUB
We all know that hungry children cannot learn effectively. Many learners who attend inner-city schools – including Good Hope Seminary Junior School and St Mary’s Primary School – live a great distance away. They travel from outlying areas like Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, Philippi, or Delft. This means children must wake early, often around 4.30am, to leave for the city by 5.30am in a minibus. This is often too early for them to eat, even if there is sufficient food for them at home. The hour-long journey is stressful, and educators have found that these children are hungry by 8am when they are expected to start learning.
The Breakfast Club was born to address this concern. In February 2016, with the full support of then-principal, Adrienne Millner, Aletta Ashmore (Learning Support Educator) and Patsy Bagraim (Shine volunteer) started up a pilot scheme to feed 75 Grade 1 learners at Good Hope Seminary Junior School. This scheme initially had money to feed these learners for just one term, but money kept coming in from generous donors. Within 18 months, up to 400 Grade R – 7 learners ate a healthy e’Pap and fruit breakfast on the school premises each school morning.
In 2019, we received a warm invitation from St Mary’s Primary School principal, Ms Sellar, her staff and Governing Board to bring the Breakfast Club to that school. Enabled by a specific generous donation, we did so with joy and were soon feeding nutritious breakfasts to over 200 learners there too.
As a result, up to 500 young learners are fed a nourishing porridge and fruit at the start of each day. This helps them derive maximum benefit from their tuition.
On 12 December 2023, Aletta Ashmore and Patsy Bagraim were both humbled and delighted to receive a Certificate of Recognition from Cape Town City Council: ‘in recognition of dedicated and generous service to the community’. Both Breakfast Clubs, at Good Hope Seminary Junior School (supervised by Patsy) and St Mary’s Primary School (supervised by Aletta) received this recognition with deep gratitude to the donors, volunteers and helpers who enable our service of nutrition to hungry children, before they start learning each morning.
IMPROVED LEARNING RESULTS
At the end of 2016, we found that 75% of the Grade 1 English and Maths results WERE BETTER than those of the 2015 and 2014 Grade 1 sets. The 2016 Grade 1 class had eaten e’Pap breakfasts all year, whereas the previous years’ Grade 1s had not.
WHAT IS e’PAP?
e’Pap, developed by Dr Basil Kransdorff, is maize and soya-based meal with supplementary vitamins and 23 other essential minerals. It was initially designed to boost the immune systems of HIV and TB patients.
SENIOR SURVEY RESULTS
In March 2017 and October 2019, we ran surveys: first at Good Hope Seminary Junior School, and later at St Mary’s Primary School. These surveys allowed us to gauge the level of need for breakfasts among the learners. Below, we present the results across the senior Grade 4 – 7 classes. We saw a clear need in both schools. A strong correlation was also evident, as expected, between having to get up very early, not eating or drinking before leaving home, the long journey to school, and hunger at 8am.
You may be interested to read some of the results that we captured from these Senior Primary learners:
GOOD HOPE SEMINARY PRIMARY
35% of our learners rise before 5am
59% of our learners never or only sometimes eat before leaving home around 5.30am
62% of our learners never or only sometimes drink water before leaving home at 8 am
62% of our learners are aware of hunger at 8 am
ST MARY’S PRIMARY
65% of our learners rise before 5am
75% of our learners never or only sometimes eating before leaving home around 5.30am
76% of our learners never or only sometimes drinking even water before leaving home
58% of our learners are aware of hunger at 8 am