A Broome-based charity organisation providing nutritional food services to under-privileged children has set their sights on a Kimberley expansion and is raising funds for a new program in Kununurra.

Feed the Little Children deliver hot, healthy meals twice a week to more than 300 children from families struggling to provide their kids with nutritious and regular meals.

The organisation’s founder and CEO, Clint Durham, said the concept behind the meal provisions came from an identified link between hungry kids and juvenile crime rates in Broome.

“My background is with the Western Australian Police Force and working with juvenile offenders,” Mr Durham said.

“A risk analysis project researched different areas of crime in the Kimberley and it was determined that lots of kids were stealing because they were hungry.”

“We started delivering meals to kids in need on Friday and Saturday nights, the nights with the highest crime rates. An evaluation showed that juvenile crime has been reduced by up to 50 percent on these nights in Broome.”

Feed the Little Children is now looking to gather support to expand into other areas of the Kimberley, starting with Kununurra, the second largest town in the region.

Statistics from 2018 revealed Kununurra had the highest rates of car theft in Western Australia outside of Perth and that burglaries in the town had increased 33 percent over eight years—with the majority of crimes committed by children aged between 10 and 16 years.

Mr Durham said the organisation’s goal is to replicate their Broome achievements and potentially reduce crime and health-related issues in other Kimberley towns.

“We currently require at least $150,000 a year to run the Broome program and our next objective is to now also obtain the funding and support required to be able to initiate the same project in Kununurra,” Mr Durham says.

“We would eventually want to have bases in all towns in the Kimberley, including Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Wyndham and Halls Creek.

The full benefits of Feed the Little Children’s work are yet to be studied but Mr Durham said there could be real links between the charity’s meal provision services and reductions in nutrition-related issues for children at the Broome Hospital.

“I would love to be able to get some data on these reductions and also on whether school attendance rates in the region have also been improved,” Mr Durham said.

“We are seeking broader public financial support to make real and immediate measureable changes in the lives of these children.”

Statistics released by the Government in 2018 showed that only 76.3 percent of Kimberley children attended school throughout 2017, in comparison to 92 percent of children in Perth.

Sunset State School in Mount Isa in outback Queensland has been running a breakfast program to feed hungry kids and boost school attendance rates since 2017.

Principal Byron Burke said the dramatic increase in attendance rates can be attributed to the nutrition program.

“The rates of sickness and absence in our children have significantly decreased and attendance rates at school have significantly increased,” Mr Burke said.

CEO Clint Durham said Feed the Little Children is also looking to improve the lives of young people across all sectors.

“We are working to break down racial barriers and tensions.”

“It’s all about changing the lives of children in need by simply supporting access to a basic necessity of life.”

By Lynette Pope