South West College (SWC) have announced the launch of free Breakfast Clubs across all its campuses as they seek to support students and local families amid the cost-of-living crisis.
The new initiative, run entirely by volunteers from the College, with food supplied through donations from staff, offers free healthy breakfasts to every student and includes a choice of healthy food options, including cereal, toast, fruit, juice, tea, and coffee.
Student Breakfast Clubs will run at the South West Colleges Dungannon, Cookstown, Omagh, and Enniskillen campuses every Monday to Wednesday from 8.15am to 9am and have been established due to the rising cost-of-living.
Research indicates that nearly half of young pupils in Northern Ireland skip breakfast before they start their academic day, with children in economically challenged households far less likely to have breakfast than pupils in more prosperous areas.
The research conducted by the University of Leeds follows an earlier study that found strong links between eating a healthy breakfast and improved well-being and behaviour, as well as improved readiness to learn, increased concentration, and many more benefits.
Celine McCartan, Chief Executive at South West College, said: “This is a great initiative and I am very grateful to the College staff who are supporting this. This means students can get a quick breakfast as soon as they get to college which sets them up for the day ahead.
“At South West College, we are committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of our students as well as actively addressing inequality. The benefits include alleviating financial anxiety, providing another social outlet and positively impacting our student’s physical and mental well-being and in turn supporting their academic pursuits.
“We hope that the initiative will support the return of all students to campus and foster a sense of community. It is such a positive initiative but only one of the range of supports we offer through our Student Services team to ensure that every student has the opportunity to achieve their full potential whist studying with us.
“We are already seeing many students participating in the Breakfast Club and the feedback from students and staff has been very encouraging. We look forward to growing and developing this scheme to meet the needs of all our students, particularly in the current economic climate.”
Sharon Pritchard, Student Engagement and Support Manager at the College, added: “As we all know, it is important for everyone to start the day with a nutritious breakfast, yet evidence suggests a lot of our students are likely to be starting their college day too hungry to learn, potentially impacting their learning experience and their overall health and wellbeing.
“Some students may have just missed breakfast in the morning, whilst others may be struggling financially. At SWC, wellness is a major focus, and we are delighted to offer this initiative to everyone so that every learner has access to a nutritious breakfast before they start their academic day.”