The Magic Breakfast charity, backed by 150 headteachers and school leaders, have asked the Chancellor to put breakfast on the table in his upcoming budget, and expand funding for the National School Breakfast Programme (NSBP) by £18 million, which they say will allow for another 2,500 schools to deliver breakfast to children and young people who need it.
Magic Breakfast work every school day to help feed children and young people, across England and Scotland, in all types of schools: Primary, Secondary, ASL / Special Educational Needs Schools, and Pupil Referral Units.
The organisation says that in 20 years of operation, need has never been as high as right now. The Food Foundation reported that 4 million children lived in food insecure households in September 2022; a sharp increase from the 2.6 million reported just six months earlier. Inflation for food, meanwhile, sits at 16.9% and rising. It hasn’t been this high since 1977.
Magic Breakfast says this has huge implications for the country and the country’s children and young people: “When they’re hungry, children and young people aren’t able to learn. Behaviour worsens. Heads go down onto desks. Headaches prevent concentration. The learning environment is made more difficult,” it says.
And then there’s the long-term impact – missed lessons compound, bringing down the educational outcomes for those impacted by morning hunger.
One Headteacher in County Durham explained: “Now more than ever before, our children need funding to ensure they are able to start the day with a nutritious breakfast. I wholeheartedly support the Magic Breakfast campaign.” – Headteacher, County Durham.
Another Headteacher in London added: “Having a free breakfast club for pupils has been a great way to support our pupils’ learning and ensure no one starts their school day hungry. […] The demand for a free breakfast from parents is high. This is a really valuable service that positively impacts on pupils’ lives and future life opportunities.”
The evidence supporting school breakfast provision is clear, says Magic Breakfast: Breakfast provision can generate 2 months of additional progress in reading, writing and maths for children in Year 2, and secondary school children who eat breakfast regularly have been found to achieve on average 2 GCSEs higher than children who rarely eat breakfast. School breakfasts can also generate long-term benefits to the economy of around £9,200 per child, meaning a return of £50 to the public purse for every £1 spent.
It says: “There are approximately 10,000 schools in England with high levels of disadvantage. The current NSBP only reaches one-quarter of these. More has to be done, clearly, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer commits to expanding funding for the NSBP by £18million over the next 18 months, up to 2,500 more schools in England can be supported with breakfast provision, allowing thousands more children to start their day with the fuel they need to reach their full potential. “