2nd September 2013: As pupils head back to school this week, leading children’s food charity Magic Breakfast is announcing it is expanding its programme of free school breakfast provision to 8,000 children - an increase of over 1,000 children from the start of the year. The charity now runs a vital food service reaching 240 schools across England, with 160 schools on its waiting list requesting urgent aid at the beginning of the Autumn term.
The founder of Magic Breakfast, Carmel McConnell, says: “Many children survive on very little food over the school holidays, so we work closely with our school partners to ensure they get a good breakfast, and are encouraged to eat their hot school lunch, right from the start of term. Teachers tell us it can take several weeks to return children to pre-holiday health. Our healthy breakfasts are delivered free of charge to schools hit hardest by food poverty. For a small charity 8,000 children is a huge number to feed every day, but we can’t allow these children to miss a morning of classroom concentration simply because they are too hungry to learn”.
A new research article by the Human Appetite Research Unit  at the University of Leeds provides fresh evidence that habitual breakfast eating (frequency and quality) and School Breakfast Programmes have a positive effect on children’s academic performance, with the clearest effects being measured on the mathematic and arithmetic grades of undernourished children. The report, by Katie Adolphus*, Associate Professor Clare L. Lawton and Professor Louise Dye, can be found at:
Katie Adolphus, lead author, commented: “Those children who regularly eat breakfast are more likely to have higher school grades. Those children who skip breakfast have more difficulty focusing on classroom tasks and concentrating in class, which is apparent in both well and undernourished children and children from deprived backgrounds. This has implications for school performance. Children from deprived backgrounds and those who are undernourished may not skip breakfast by choice, but rather due to limited availability of food at home.”
New studies on the effects of breakfast on behaviour and school performance will be published by the Leeds team soon.
 Front. Hum. Neurosci., 08 August 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00425
•Katie Adolphus*, Clare L. Lawton and Louise Dye "The effects of breakfast on behavior and academic performance in children and adolescents", Human Appetite Research Unit, Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds.
For more information, and to arrange an interview with Carmel McConnell, founder of Magic Breakfast and Katie Adolphus, from the University of Leeds, please contact:
Sophia Dettmer, Southwick Media Consultancy.
Tel: 07803 800164.
Press Officer | Communications | University of Leeds
T: 0113 34 38059
Notes to Editors:
Carmel McConnell, founder of Magic Breakfast, is a member of the School Food Plan expert panel, working with Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent from Leon, to review school food across the board. The Panel reported its findings in July. The full report can be found here www.schoolfoodplan.com
Magic Breakfast would like to provide food support to all primary schools in need, to improve pupils’ educational outcomes and health, as well as provide childcare support to parents. The charity receives no public funds and urgently needs support from business leaders and members of the public to carry on this work. It has an ambitious agenda, to help more parents feed their children a good breakfast at home as well as create self-funding breakfast clubs longer term.
It costs Magic Breakfast:
• 22p to buy a healthy breakfast for a primary school pupil
• £3.50 to give a child healthy breakfast for a month
• £42 to feed a child for a year
Stories from Magic Breakfast schools:
“I’ve seen a child slip under his desk, faint with hunger. I’ve taken him out, given him a drink and one of your bagels and he sprang back into life. He’d probably not eaten anything since school dinner the day before. That’s why we rely on Magic Breakfast. With breakfast, children are ready and able to learn.”
“Oliver was on report nearly every day for disruptive behaviour. Since coming to the breakfast club he’s become a bright and engaged student who is eager to participate in lessons.”
“Some of our children come to school with the remains of yesterday’s take away in their lunch box – some cold fried chicken (mostly bones) and a few cold chips.”
“At about 11.30 children start going to the classroom door because they can smell the school lunch and are hungry. They can’t wait to get into the main hall to eat. We have to ask them to sit down and wait. It’s heartbreaking.”
“These kids only have one chance at childhood, and one chance at education. Education is going to be their best way out of poverty. By feeding and valuing them, Magic Breakfast makes a practical difference to these children every single day”.
The University of Leeds
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