30 November 2015

‘Cereal for Coffee’ perks up Chappy breakfasts

Posted in Chaplaincy / Youth issues

Supporting chaplaincy by drinking coffee. Seems like a dream, right?!

Well, dream no longer because Phil Sargeson has made this dream a reality.

Eager to support chaplaincy in a tangible way, Phil and his wife, Samara, discovered Breakfast clubs and the benefit that this can have on a child’s education.

“It came about because my wife’s a primary school teacher and she sees kids day-in-and-day-out who come to school with Tim-Tams or other foods which aren’t suitable for breakfast, or they haven’t had any breakfast at all.”

“And it made us both think about why this is happening in a first world country in today’s society, that in our own backyard children are coming to school without food.”

The demand is certainly high for this kind of assistance and Phil found a very real way to resource chaplains in his local area to fight this far-reaching epidemic.

“I was doing a bit of research online about how we could help local chaplaincy and found a café in Auckland, New Zealand that runs a similar program. This one café would, for one or two hours, accept a can of food in exchange for a coffee and they managed to raise about 250 cans. And that was just one café for a couple hours.

“So I was thinking why don’t we run with this style of fundraiser but with cereal? Cereal was the obvious choice because it can be stored for a while and used when needed, unlike many other breakfast foods. We talked to a few people and chaplains and said ‘how can we make this happen for you guys?’.”

Taking the initiative to adapt an idea to his local needs, Phil started a Cereal for Coffee fundraiser in the Wynnum Manly region.

“When we started to approach the cafés, we were only expecting a few but we managed to sign up nine cafés in two days. Some really high profile ones too. One café is recognised as amongst the best cafés in Brisbane, according to Beanhunter. It was really great to get them on board.”

Once Phil and Samara had put all the plans in place, they had to wait and see what would happen. Having never run a similar event before, they were unsure about how it would all eventuate. But the event proved to be very popular, right across all nine cafés.

“We had the vision and we knew what the goal was but we had no idea how it would all pan out. Obviously, you’re going out on a limb for the chaplains. Especially when you’re approaching cafés to give away free coffee. It’s one or two hours of their trade. Their livelihood. It’s approximately $1000 that they’re donating if you add it up as $3 per cup for a few hours.”

“In the week and a half leading up to the day, people were already dropping off boxes of cereal. We would drive past some of the cafés and pick up a few boxes in the week leading up to it.”

“In total, we collected 450 boxes of cereal. The aim was 1000 but I’m really glad we didn’t collect that many because we didn’t have the space to store 1000. Next time, we’d love to collect 1000 or more.”

The amazing success of the Wynnum Manly region Cereal for Coffee fundraising event has prompted Phil to use this format to help chaplains all across Queensland. As long as chaplains are still providing breakfast for the students who don’t have access to any, there will be a need for cereal, bread and other foods. Phil hopes this fundraising format can fill this need.

Phil is very enthusiastic about rolling this exciting initiative out in other districts throughout Queensland with the help of each local chaplaincy committee. So if you see a Cereal for Coffee Chaplaincy Fundraiser being run near you, be sure to get involved and support it!


Simeon Lawson

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