Brethren charity, The Rapid Relief Team (RRT), is donating 100,000 nutritional ‘Smarrt Cookie’ bars to schools and students in need this year.

It follows a successful trial program to more than 80 schools around Australia in 2021.

Designed to complement existing school ‘Breakfast Club’ programs, the initiative aims to break down the barrier hunger can play in distracting primary school children from their education.

“School can be taxing enough for some kids, but what is true for all kids is they can’t learn when they have hungry tummies,” Ken Earl, General Manager for RRT Australia said.

Smarrt Cookie bar excitement

Students excited by RRT’s Smarrt Cookie bars

“We recognised there is an increasing difficulty for lower-income families to provide healthy food amidst growing cost-of-living pressures for families right across Australia,” Mr Earl said.

“With feedback clearly demonstrating the need and desire for the program to continue, we are pleased to be able to both continue and expand the program.”

RRT’s Smarrt Cookie bars are created by nutritionists and are small enough so they can be given discretely to students, so they are not stigmatised by peers.

They have a balance of energy, protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fibre in equal proportions of daily intake values, including 10 vitamins and six minerals.

A national survey of participating schools showed Australian kids are able to fight hunger and learn better thanks to the donation of over 54,990 nutritional bars across 83 regions last year.

The survey received feedback from 40 per cent of participating schools, showing the first year of the program has been a resounding success.

In particular it highlighted how the Smarrt Cookie Bar helps plug an important gap for Aussie kids going to school hungry.

Brethren charity RRT's Smarrt Cookie bars

RRT’s Smarrt Cookie bars have been a hit.

Nearly 100 per cent of respondents said the initiative was important (93% said “very important” and six per cent said it’s “important”).

Feedback included:

  • Attendance improving and more alert and engaged learning by children in class.
  • Ability to enjoy the bar on the run, ensuring they don’t miss time in the classroom or aren’t segregated from their peers at playtime to eat.
  • The bar helps teachers build trust with students and start a conversation to get them additional support.

As a result, RRT is extending and expanding the program – to 100,000 thousand bars in 2022, from 55,000 in 2021.

The Smarrt Cookie initiative was developed by RRT in collaboration with Cookie Time in New Zealand, as part of their One Square Meal (OSM) Everyday Nutrition range, delivering ‘plant-based products with nutritional credentials’.

“The Smarrt Cookie bar builds upon our extensive experience in providing food and care to the vulnerable as well as to disaster locations following fires, drought and flood,” Mr Earl said.

“We hope this helps more Australian kids reach their full potential.”

The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church established the RRT in 2013 to express the Church’s principles of care and compassion. The RRT is staffed by Church volunteers who provide catering services at a range of charitable events and emergencies.

Globally, the Brethren charity has more than 14,500 volunteers and operates in Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, the United States, Canada and Germany.