Charity Changing Lives of School Students Through Free Lunch Bags – Hope 103.2

Charity Changing Lives of School Students Through Free Lunch Bags

Christ Mission Possible delivers lunches to school children who go to school without lunches in Sydney's West.

By Amy ChengFriday 6 May 2022Social JusticeReading Time: 4 minutes

A charity program distributing free lunches to school children in need is helping to turn around troubled students.

Christ Mission Possible, a local charity based in Kingswood, NSW, delivers lunches to school children who go to school without lunches.

The Brown Paper Bag program is currently supporting 26 schools, both primary and high school, between Penrith and Mount Druitt, delivering approximately 350 to 400 lunches daily.

The Brown Paper Bag program is delivering approximately 350 to 400 lunches daily to primary and high schools between Penrith and Mount Druitt.

CEO Martin Beckett said schools are reporting changed behaviour in the children.

“They said that they noticed that instantly there was a change in the behaviour of these kids because they just had food, just a sandwich and a bit of fruit,” he told Hope 103.2.

“It’s changed the behaviour of the kids that were generally getting in trouble, generally getting detentions or getting little demerits against them for behaviour which would obviously lead to other more stricter things.”

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“Those kids became leaders rather than being the bullies… they weren’t misbehaving anymore, they got to see life from a different side,” – Martin Beckett, CEO of Christ Mission Possible

Life changing

Christ Mission Possible's The Brown Paper Bag program providing free lunches for kids in need at Sydney Schools

Source: Supplied

Christ Mission Possible's The Brown Paper Bag program providing free lunches for kids in need at Sydney Schools

Christ Mission Possible collaborates with teachers and principals to identify children most at risk.

“We weren’t just throwing lunches in the schools, we knew the kids’ names, we know how many kids,” Mr Beckett said.

The bags are filled with sandwiches, a piece of fruit or tub of fruit, a drink and a snack bar.

“It’s actually called Brown Paper Bag… because when I was in school, I remember getting a brown bag with my lunch and it’d either be from the canteen or mom would put it together for us,” Mr Beckett said.

One of the teams at the charity recently started The Life program and is working with four schools with a high number of troubled children.

“We took some sporty people in there; they went in and just did some educational stuff with them around behaviour,” Mr Beckett said.

“They got the bullies in the school to actually set up a lunch in the quadrangle, where they actually served all the other kids lunch.”

These children ended up being part of the school social group, Mr Beckett said.

“What we found again from that was those kids became leaders rather than being the bullies… they weren’t misbehaving anymore, they got to see life from a different side.

“What we found with the schools is that all of them have said that the behaviour of the kids, the participation of the kids, improved immediately with these programs.”

“One school had 20, one school had nearly 60 kids in a school that would come in weekly without food; that’s crazy,” – Martin Beckett, CEO of Christ Mission Possible

“Going through the garbage”

The Brown Paper Bag program began at the end of 2016, when Mr Beckett heard there were children going to school without lunches.

He rang a few schools to talk to the principals to confirm this was indeed the case.

“One school had 20, one school had nearly 60 kids in a school that would come in weekly without food; that’s crazy,” Mr Beckett said.

The bags are packed by volunteers, who also make the sandwiches, and delivered to the schools.

The bags would then be handed to children by teachers, principals or counsellors in a discreet way to avoid embarrassing them.

When the program grew, the charity began receiving calls and letters from other schools, who were often unaware they had a problem.

“(One) principal got a call from one of the teachers saying ‘Hey, I noticed two kids going through the garbage bin today’,” Mr Beckett said.

“And the principal said that they both just couldn’t help but obviously cry over that… and they said it couldn’t go on.”

“We’ve always been driven to serve the community and make our community better,” – Martin Beckett, CEO of Christ Mission Possible

Reasons children come to school without lunches

Although poverty is one of the reasons why children go to school without lunches, it is not the main reason, Mr Beckett said.

“The biggest reason is probably most parents going to work (and) the kids are left to make their own lunch, and at times the kid just doesn’t do it, they’ll leave and go.”

“There may not be food because the family dynamics are so busy, and then there are the other issues of drugs and alcohol and domestic violence, so the house is not a good environment.”

“The biggest reason is probably most parents going to work (and) the kids are left to make their own lunch…” – Martin Beckett, CEO of Christ Mission Possible

These children would often go the whole day without eating anything and some don’t even make it to school because they’re so embarrassed about not having food.

“When they are at school, they can’t concentrate, they can’t listen in class because they’re hungry, and if you’re hungry, you don’t have a good attention span,” Mr Beckett said.

“So, it affects their learning and affects their social behaviour; they tend to be the kid that’s getting in trouble a lot.”

The Great Commission

Christ Mission Possible's The Brown Paper Bag program providing free lunches for kids in need at Sydney Schools

Christ Mission Possible's The Brown Paper Bag program providing free lunches for kids in need at Sydney Schools

Christ Mission Possible's The Brown Paper Bag program providing free lunches for kids in need at Sydney Schools

Mr Beckett said the Brown Paper Bag program is part of the charity’s mission to serve the community and add value.

“We’ve always been driven to serve the community and make our community better and make it a more productive place where everybody’s getting their needs met,” he said.

“The Great Commission says go into all the world and preach the gospel, it doesn’t say bring the whole world in and preach to them.

“We use Christ Mission Possible as the ‘go vehicle’ for us, where we get to go into all the world and schools was one of them.”