Feed Appeal’s Rural Schools Grants Program, launched earlier this year, and provides disadvantaged kids with free meals.
With many families experiencing economic hardship due to the pandemic, 50 per cent more families are reaching out for food relief this year.
Feed Appeal CEO Katherine Gokavi-Whaley said that around 70 per cent of those currently seeking food relief are doing so for the first time.
“They're not people that are accessing food relief regularly,” Gokavi-Whaley said.
“The main demographic that's coming that's new are … single parent families and students.”
To try and meet the increased demand, Feed Appeal is calling on Australian schools to host a One = One fundraising day.
For every dollar donated by a school community, Feed Appeal can provide one meal for a student in need.
All of the money raised will go directly to the Rural Schools Grants Program and provide meals for students in the same state as the host school.
Feed Appeal is aiming to raise around $100,000 through the One = One program, and estimates that between 500 and 1000 schools will need to participate in order to reach that target.
“In some of the really remote communities, we've even had a handful of schools that said, 'Look, we're basically feeding everybody', because none of the students are coming to school with meals, and their concern has been that during COVID in particular, the meals the kids are getting at school are probably the only guaranteed meal that they have,” Gokavi-Whaley said.
“While schools were closed, some students really haven't been getting nourishment. And now that schools are starting to reopen, they're seeing an even greater increase in the number of kids that are coming to school needing access to food.”
The One = One program is scheduled to run between August 17 and August 21.
Feed Appeal has also put together some posters and information for schools to access, to help students get a better understanding of food insecurity.
“So all the packs that we've put together for the schools have information about food insecurity more broadly, but quite specifically around students and the impact to their learning and their behaviour and their long-term development,” Gokavi-Whaley said.
“But there's also aspects in there around how can kids get involved? How can we make sure that they're aware that, you know, they come to school well fed and with lunch in their bags, but there are people, their friends who are not having that same experience?
“We've also given some educational materials to the teachers so that they can use it as part of the curriculum, so that kids just become a little bit wiser and smarter about what's happening in their broader community.”
Registrations for the One = One program are open until August 16.