Eat Up Australia is a Melbourne-based organisation that makes lunches for primary school students in tough financial and social circumstances. The organisation, run by Lyndon Galea from Shepparton, has been making the rounds to primary schools around Melbourne. The team plans to expand across Australia in the coming months.
Galea began the business in 2012, making sandwiches in his mum’s kitchen with girlfriend Belinda. He started making school lunches simply because he heard a news report that said children were attending school without lunch. The first delivery of 100 cheese and Vegemite sandwiches has now grown, and is continuing to expand. As of this year, Eat Up now delivers over 6000 lunches per week to 271 schools across Melbourne.
A 2015 report from Foodbank found that leaving children to attend school hungry negatively effected their ability to learn.
“4 out of 5 teachers (82%) report an increased workload due to hungry students as the children find it harder to concentrate (73%), are lethargic (66%) or demonstrate behavioural problems (52%),” the report found.
Galea believes financial difficulties are the main reason for the children being unable to take lunches to school.
“The uptake of the lunches really ebbs and flows around the welfare payment cycles,”Galea told 2DayFM hosts Em Rusciano, Ed Kavalee, and Grant Denyer this morning.
“The lunch uptake is at its lowest when a new payment arrives, which shows that these parents are desperately trying to feed their kids.”
The team at Eat Up have taken over TAFE Kitchen premises, and host “massive sandwich-making sessions” during the week. The lunches are then delivered to the schools, where teachers freeze and preserve it. Lunch is then ready for when a child needs it.
With an increase in demand for their services came the need for more facilities, donations, and food sources. “Coles and Goodman Field donate out bread, and SPC gives us fruit cups. But sliced cheese is the big one we haven’t been able to get a source for,” Galea told the radio hosts.
Now they’re branching out to Sydney and calling for volunteers.
“Eat Up totally works just on the back of the time of volunteers and people, whether they love where they live and want to help kids in circumstances that are tough where they are” Galea said during the radio broadcast.
“If people can help us make sandwiches, if school teachers are in the car now and they know there are kids at their school in these circumstances, let us know – we’d really love to help.”