A group of five burly schoolleavers were reduced to tears as they thanked the women who coordinate the Kai Ora breakfast club at Mount Maunganui College.

That was the huge impact a good meal had on their lives, not to mention providing a real incentive to come to school each day.

"They were in tears - massive 17 to 18-year-old boys in tears," says school nurse Lisa Ferris, who helps co-ordinate Kai Ora.

The breakfast club was formed three-and-a-half years ago by former school nurse Clare Wilson and now feeds 15 to 20 students each day between 11am and 11.20am.


Clare noticed there was a group of students coming to school hungry which affected their learning, socialisation and general health.

The food is donated by local businesses - Cafe´ 88 and Nosh - as well as private sponsors, with financial contributions from DentalPlus and Nautilus Shipping Agency Tauranga.

The students eat donated food from the cafes as well as cereal, milk and toast, paid for by donations.

Lisa who co-ordinates the club with the help of Jen Durham says it is run by Year 13 students as part oftheir community service.

There was no stigma attached, with students going along and despite initial concerns, the service was never abused by those who weren't in need.

"It means it's really accessible to kids. I think that's what makes it cool," she says.

Rising costs of rent and food meant in some households students only received one meal a day, she says.

"Boys in particular. There isn't enough food to fill you and cheap food doesn't fill you. It's white, sugar-related, easily burnt off - an hour later you're starving."

Due to renovations at the school the club recently moved to interim premises and put out a call on Facebook for a new fridge and indoor and outdoor dining furniture to make the environment more 'homely'.

Lisa says the response was overwhelming and the school had already received an offer to do up the club's permanent new home in a couple of months.

Having worked at a number of schools, Lisa says Mount College took a holistic approach to their students.

"Russell Gordon's (principal) main priority is the welfare of students here. We have to look after each other, we're a community," she says.

Cafe´ 88 manager Toya Desai says they had been donating food to Kai Ora for the year she had worked there and it was always warmly appreciated.

"It's just a good way to put the left-over food to good use really.

It's better than letting it go to waste and it's a really good cause."

The cafe´ food, made fresh each day, was also a treatfor the students, she says.

"I would have been stoked to have that at school."