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The Gamechanger: Carmel McConnell named 4th on Radio 4 Women’s Hour power list 2014

 

Friday 4th April 2014

A huge congratulations to Magic Breakfast founder Carmel McConnell whose hard work to ensure thousands of children a day have access to a healthy breakfast has been named a top ten game changer by Radio 4's Women's Hour. The game changers Power List was revealed live on Radio 4 by a panel of 5 judges.

Having heard first hand from teacher’s in East London that children's education was suffering due to hunger, Carmel took immediate action by delivering breakfast to schools in Hackney each weekend. After being bowled over by the difference this made to the children's behaviour and concentration, Carmel decided there was so much more to do and gave up her consultancy work in the city, re-mortgaging her house to set up Magic Breakfast. Her only goal to make sure no child missed out on their education due to hunger.

This was just over a decade ago, since then Carmel’s hard work, passion, determination and a lot of bagels have meant that over 8,500 children now start each day nourished and ready to learn!

Alex Cunningham, interim CEO of Magic Breakfast said ‘We are so pleased Carmel has been named 4th gamechanger in Britain. Carmel has dedicated the last 13 years to ensuring children have a healthy start to the day who would otherwise be too hungry to learn. So far over 6 million breakfasts have been provided. Our small charity has been undoubtedly fuelled by the passion of its founder who is still campaigning hard today. We have much work to be done and hope this will raise awareness of the issue of child hunger in Britain and how Magic Breakfast has a plan to solve it.’

A judge on the Women’s Hour power list panel defined a gamechanger as ‘someone whose endeavours, work and commitment over a number of years has shifted either the debate, science, way people behave or think and that you can see the link between what it is they have done and the impact they have had’.

I think you will agree that Carmel is indisputably a game changer.

By the end of 2014 Magic Breakfast will be feeding 16,000 children daily, we are now urgently seeking partnerships and large donations to allow us to reach the target and deliver the program successfully.

Listen to Carmel on BBC 4 Women’s Hour here

Follow Carmel on twitter @MagicCarmel

 
It’s a happy healthy pancake day at Surrey Square Primary, Bermondsey.

 

Tuesday 4th March 2014

We heard that the children at Surrey Square Primary are crazy about pancakes, so our fantastic supporters at Village East Restaurant and independent chef Asia Kostka got up bright and early this morning to make a huge stack!

We encourage our Magic Breakfast clubs to be as healthy as possible so these weren't just any pancakes, they were delicious oaty pancakes that contained no sugar but had cinnamon, vanilla extract and ground raw cacao for added taste and nutrients.

We played ‘guess the topping’ which included pomegranate, mangoes, pineapple, prunes, dates, passion fruit, pecans and hazelnuts. At first some children were reluctant to try but by the end of breakfast club they were saying ‘I’m going to try everything’. Firm favourites were the mangoes and pineapples!

Breakfast club coordinator Roberta said ‘it’s so nice to see the children trying different things, we’ll know what they like now and can serve it up again’.

Surrey Square Primary has a free breakfast club for 25 children and also delivers bagels to the classrooms at the beginning of lessons to ensure no child is starting school hungry.

A big thank you to Asia Kostka and Natalia Ribbe from Village East for their time, energy and enthusiasm this morning.

Here is the recipe if you would like to make Asia’s Magic pancakes:

For the pancake mix, makes 25-30

  • 285g flour
  • 175g oats
  • 43g baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 150g vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon powder
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons ground raw cacao beans
  • 5 eggs
  • 525g of yoghurt
  • 550g of milk

1) To make the mix: Grind the oats in a food processor until they're chopped fine, but not a powder.

2) Put the flour, oats, and all other dry ingredients into a deep bowl.  Slowly drizzle the vegetable oil into the bowl while mixing steadily with a broad faced pastry spatula. Incorporate well.

3) Finally, whisk together the eggs, yoghurt, milk. Mix well with dry ingredients and let stand.  Don't worry if it seems thin at first: the oats will soak up the milk, and the mix will thicken a bit as it stands.

The oats add a power boost with protein, zinc, iron, vitamin B and many others. They aid in the stabilization of blood-sugar levels and are low calorie and high volume.  Cacao has the relaxing minerals of magnesium and potassium, and palmitic acid which helps strengthen the brain and heart.  It also contains incredibly high levels of antioxidants.  Cinnamon, a blood sugar blocker lowers insulin and lowers LDL cholesterol.  Vanilla beans contains over 200 organic compounds that stimulate a soothed mind.  Vanilloids can help aid against brain inflammation, and increase a sharper mind and thought process.

Visit Asia’s website Urban Empowerment Project

 

 

 
Farmhouse Breakfast Week

 

Farmhouse Breakfast Week 2014 took place from the 26th January – 1st February and once again proved to be a great success!

Last week, we were very busy promoting breakfast and visiting some of our partner schools to help raise awareness of importance of breakfast as a healthy start to the day. Some schools that took part in promoting a healthy start to the day and we had the chance to visit were St James and De Beauvoir primary schools. We thought in sharing with you our great experience and photos.

De Beauvoir Primary School, Hackney

 


The club proudly displayed its Farmhouse breakfast week poster and gave out stickers to the children. Furthermore, De Beauvoir Primary School celebrates breakfast every day, not just during Farmhouse Breakfast week!

The universally free club is attended by between 50 and 60 children each day and is run by a mixture of teaching assistants and catering staff. Tables are set out like a café with cutlery and colourful cups alongside cartons of fruit juice.

Breakfast is served buffet style with coordinators serving the children. The menu varies for each day of the week. On Tuesday, the day we visited the club, the choice was porridge, toasted bagels, vegetable sausages, scrambled egg and beans. Speaking to one girl who was sitting down to beans on bagel, she said ‘I’m being healthy’ and asked why responded ‘so I can be strong and grow up’.

The headteacher came to speak to us and explained how the breakfast club is fundamental to learning at the school.

After the children had helped clear away their breakfast dishes they played games before heading to class with the right fuel for learning!

St James Primary School, Southwark

“What I like the most about the breakfast club is playing with my sister and sister’s friends. I’ve got a lot of friends here.” 5 year old girl at St James

The dining hall was packed with around 60 children, all having a great time eating, playing and socialising. As part of the week long promotion the schools had posters and recipe cards giving tips and advice on healthy breakfast ideas. There were lots of resources for parents and children to take away and try at home.

For Farmhouse Breakfast Week the school used our taster pots to encourage children to eat porridge and cereals for breakfast, topping them with fresh berries to give it a natural sweet taste to appeal to children. Children loved it and came back for more!

 

“What I like the most about the breakfast club is I play with my sister and sister’s friends. I’ve got a lot of friends here.” said a 5 year old girl.  The breakfast club clearly helps build children’s social skills as the children were interacting very well with each other. It was clear to us that the children there were having a fantastic start to their school day!

 
Magic Breakfast shines a spotlight on Liverpool

 

 

At Magic Breakfast we think the key to reaching all the children arriving at school hungry is to listen and learn from our partner schools.

On 26th November the Magic Breakfast team headed to Liverpool Tate to host an event to bring our partner schools in Liverpool together to share, learn and celebrate the success of what has been achieved. As one school said. ‘we’re front-line – we see the problems’.

While some of the stories we heard from schools were shocking, with one school asking ‘Are we living in Dickensian times’, the hard work of our partner schools and the difference they make was inspiring.

Many schools told us breakfast club noticeably improved attendance, punctuality and social skills of the children attending.

Audrey who runs St Silas' vibrant club of 50 children proclaimed it was the 'best thing to happen to our school'.
Whilst others explained how it had helped their 'families massively since the bedroom tax as many were facing the dilemma to give their children breakfast or an evening meal'.

The schools shared ideas of how to engage parents and encourage more children to come to the breakfast clubs such as hosting coffee mornings, running cookery clubs, 'Rise and Shine' exercise sessions and having bagels readily available children who may be arriving a little late.

The event was a great success with 100% of the participants saying they were very satisfied with the event.

All schools strongly agree that the event provided practical ideas and solutions and that it has strengthened their commitment to taking action and helping to solve child hunger in the morning for good at their respective schools. The schools said the best aspects of the event were meeting the whole magic breakfast team, sharing learning and good practices with other schools and gaining a deeper understanding of Magic Breakfast.

 

The motivation and determination of the schools to feed every hungry child was fantastic to see, we’re looking forward to holding more of events with our schools across the country in 2014!

 
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