Life Education’s Donna Walker travels thousands of kilometres each year, taking the charity’s iconic Healthy Harold van to primary schools in north west Queensland so children can learn about making safe and healthy choices.
But this week, the Townsville-based educator is getting behind the wheel of the local Eat Up van, to deliver more than 300 boxes of Sanitarium products including Weet-bix to more than 30 schools across Townsville, Charters Towers, and the Burdekin.
With Donna’s regular teaching schedule with Life Education disrupted by COVID-19, she wanted to find a meaningful way to give back to the local community.
“At Life Education, we teach students about how to make healthy food choices and look after their bodies, but I’m well aware that there are children in my classes whose families are doing it tough, and at times, they’re coming to school with nothing or very little to eat,” Donna said.
“It's reassuring to know that there are organisations like Eat Up who are able to provide quality food, so that kids can come to school and be able to feel good, concentrate and play without having to worry about being hungry and tired.”
Eat Up CEO Lyndon Galea, whose charity has delivered more than 870,000 sandwiches to more than 500 schools in Queensland, Victoria, and NSW, said the coronavirus had seen an increased demand for food assistance for hungry kids and their families.
“Usually we meet that demand via hands-on sandwich-making sessions with large groups of volunteers. With conditions as they are, we cannot currently do that for the foreseeable future. We have had to think quickly, adapt, and call upon extra help to ensure we can still support hungry school kids,” Mr Galea said.
“Thanks to Life Education we will be able to fill our van four times over with Weet-Bix, So Good and UP&GO and deliver to 34 schools throughout Townsville, Charters Towers and Burdekin. Local community support is paramount at times like this, and we’re sincerely thankful.”
Life Education Queensland CEO Michael Fawsitt said his charity had also adapted swiftly to the COVID-19 pandemic with educators busy supporting teachers and parents, delivering a new online learning platform, as well as volunteering.
“Our team of educators has shown incredible versatility, and as a charity that’s focused on supporting children’s health and well-being, I’m so pleased we’re able to make a contribution to providing vital food relief during such a difficult time for many families,” Mr Fawsitt said.
When Donna ends her volunteer stint with Eat Up, she and fellow Townsville educator Tim McKean will continue to bring the Life Education program to local school kids this term, before she heads to the state’s north west in term three.
In the meantime, schools and parents can register their interest for the new Life Education online learning platform - Life Education @ Home, at lifeeducationathome.org.au