News: School breakfast project launched nationwide
Published: 11 Mar 2021
Churchill Fellows Lynne Hindmarch (CF 2018) and Lindsay Graham (CF 2014) have launched a new breakfast club model that is being rolled out across UK primary and secondary schools to provide a morning boost to schoolchildren. The Breakfast Club Cart is the first of its kind in the UK and has already helped to support over 800 children since the pilot begun in 2019.
The new grab and go model offers primary and secondary school pupils the opportunity to pick up a free breakfast from a mobile cart when they arrive at school in the morning. Starting as a pilot project that was implemented across three Scottish schools, the initiative is now being rolled out to 20 schools across the UK.
The concept was inspired by Lynne’s Fellowship, which researched best practice in school breakfast clubs in the USA and Canada. During her travels, Lynne saw that schools were successfully using a ‘grab-and-go' model, where students collected bagged breakfast foods from chill bags when they arrived at school.
Lynne, who is Breakfast Club Manager at the Greggs Foundation, says: “If it had not been for my Fellowship, I would never have thought about the idea. When I witnessed the ‘grab-and-go' model in action in the USA and Canada, I felt that this idea could be developed to help feed more children at school breakfast clubs and alleviate pressure from staff resources in the UK.”
Lynne discussed the idea with Lindsay, who is a policy advisor and a commissioner with Scotland’s Poverty and Inequality Commission. Lindsay had seen similar programmes in place during her Fellowship, which explored community projects supporting school holiday meals the USA. Working with their respective organisations, they secured support from Moffat Catering Equipment, the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University, East Renfrewshire Council and the wholesale food supplier Brakes, to set up a pilot in three schools.
A breakfast club cart in action at Carr Hill primary school in Gateshead
Lindsay says: “It was great to work on The Breakfast Club Cart project with Lynne. To be able to combine our Fellowship experiences into a project that had such positive outcomes was really rewarding. At the Poverty and Inequality Commission we are always keen to see equality in practice - and that is what this simple but effective project did, by providing a free breakfast to all pupils in the schools.”
Only a quarter of traditional breakfast clubs in the UK are completely free for all children to attend, with some offering free places only to children from lower income families. The Breakfast Club Cart aims to reduce some of the stigma associated with breakfast clubs, by being free and open to all schoolchildren.
The importance of breakfast has been well documented. A report from the Department for Education in 2017 reported that, “as well as reducing hunger, breakfast clubs were perceived to improve concentration and behaviour in class and to improve punctuality for some pupils.”
Research carried out by Glasgow Caledonian University, following the breakfast carts pilot, found that the carts were well-received by both teachers and pupils. Professor John Mckendrick from the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University led the evaluation and said: “We know that many families will be less financially secure as a result of Covid-19 so breakfast carts may be the safeguard that we now require to ensure that children are properly nourished at the start of the school day.”
Lynne says: “I would like to see local authorities pick up and implement this idea. Breakfast carts offer a simple long-term solution to feeding more pupils efficiently and can help to reduce the stigma around receiving free meals at school.”
In February an Early Day Motion was tabled in the House of Commons, welcoming the project.