Students from Bundaberg Central State School.

The Queensland Government has announced the 90 schools which will benefit from a $29 million budget increase to its Eat right, play right, learn well initiative, which is upgrading playgrounds and canteens across the state. 

Expanding on the initial $20 million – that saw 60 schools receive funding – the extra $29 million was announced as part of the 2023-24 State Budget to ensure more schools could benefit from the popular program.

The extra $29 million will see 90 more schools across the state receive funding to upgrade or enhance their playground and tuckshop facilities, in an effort to keep students healthier and more active.

Through the program, schools were able to apply for funding of up to $500,000 to upgrade playgrounds, including to replace soft fall surfacing and install shade cover structures, and for tuckshops to purchase items such as catering appliances and equipment, install stainless steel benches and upgrade facilities.

Set to share in almost $4.6 million, 15 of the 90 schools are in the Wide Bay area, and includes Bundaberg West State School – who are set to receive $500,000 for a new senior playground – and Walkervale State School who will receive almost $450,000 to install play equipment and a sports court.

The tuckshop and playground upgrade program prioritises funding schools in disadvantaged areas where these upgrades are needed most.

Queensland Minister for Education, Grace Grace, said the State Government is delighted to announce the 90 schools that are set to benefit from this budget boost. 

“This will be money well spent from the Cape to the capital, ensuring our students have access to healthy and nutritious tuckshop meals and modern playground equipment to help our students be active and engaged,” Ms Grace said. 

“This hugely popular initiative is all about supporting the health and wellbeing of students.

“And, it has been so popular that the department is reviewing all remaining eligible applications and looking at how we can provide funding.” 

Garbutt State School received $317,000 to build a new tuckshop and kitchen as one of 60 schools that shared in the fund’s initial $20 million pot.

Garbutt State School Principal, Jackie Guiney, said, “This fantastic project will allow students to use the tuckshop as a learning space for our focus this year on sustainability with recycling, bush tucker garden and growing our own food – the tuckshop is our school’s only kitchen facility and is also the base for our daily breakfast club.

“A focus on indigenous cooking, healthy food and cooking skills, in conjunction with the local Indigenous Health Service, will allow us to meet the needs of our First Nations students – 85 per cent of around 100 students enrolled – and embed their culture into our curriculum and teaching, building understanding.”

Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith said that it is fantastic to see schools, students and staff right across the region benefit from this popular program.

“We know how important playgrounds and tuckshops are to school life, and this funding is sure to have a positive impact on these school communities,” Mr Smith said. 

“If you add together the 15 schools successful in this round and the five schools that benefited from the initial $20 million, over $6.3 million is being invested to upgrade playgrounds and tuckshops in Wide Bay alone.”

Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders said that both Granville State School and Howard State School in his electorate will see important upgrades as part of this program.

“For Howard State School, almost $400,000 has been committed to design and construct a new tuckshop,” Mr Suanders said. 

“This funding will go a long way to ensuring students remain happy and healthy learners.”

Bundaberg Central State School received $331,516 to build a new tuckshop as part of the funds initial round. 

Bundaberg Central State School Principal, Frank Nastasi, said that this will be a brand-new build for Bundaberg Central State School, and a very welcome one.

“It will bring our tuckshop facilities into the heart of the school from their current location in G Block, which is out of the way for students,” Mr Nastasi said. 

“On completion it will enable us to look at adding more tuckshop days a week from the current two, and to run on school events such as sports days which currently doesn’t happen due to its location.”

Featured image: Students from Bundaberg Central State School. Image credit: The Queensland Government.

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