For release: 27 April 2022

  • 67% of schools in England offering breakfast have a charge, a barrier to those most in need   
  • Government funding for school breakfast provision reaches just one in four of children in England’s most disadvantaged areas  
  • Hunger impacts attainment, attendance, and behaviour in class  

Magic Breakfast, an education charity, today releases the largest study of school breakfast provision in the United Kingdom (UK) to date, exposing a patchwork of provision which fails the most vulnerable. The report used data held by local authorities across the country, via a series of FOI requests, alongside survey data provided directly from schools. The full report and key findings are available here. 

Hidden Hunger details the significant gaps in breakfast provision in every community which are leading to children starting class too hungry to learn. The impact is significant, with studies showing morning hunger leading to increased absence, lower levels of attainment and poor behaviour in class.  

The report reveals staff and food costs as the biggest barrier to school efforts to end hunger in the classroom. With the spiralling cost of living worsening the situation for both schools and families. Magic Breakfast is calling for an urgent £75m funding boost for school breakfasts in England, and similar investments from the Scottish Government to level up education and reach those children and young people at risk of hunger. 

Young people campaigning with Magic Breakfast have launched an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeking agreement for one key recommendation in the report – that the Government provides £75m in urgent funding to boost its limited breakfast programme.  

Youth Campaigner Sara Ishak said, “In my school the breakfast club cost £2 a day so I couldn’t attend. Many children will be affected by the huge cost of living rise, we want to see meaningful action from Government to ensure every child has a better start in life. You can’t level up a child’s life chances if they are starting class hungry.” 

Ruth Perry, Head of School, Newall Green Primary School, Wythenshawe, Manchester said, “There is a cost-of-living crisis affecting parents and if we didn’t have a Magic Breakfast in the morning, some children would be starting class hungry. Instead, pupils begin the day with a free, healthy breakfast and are better prepared to learn. My staff and I have seen the difference it can make. But schools can’t do this alone, that’s why it is so important Boris Johnson and the Department for Education heed this call.” 

Breakfast provision could generate long-term benefits to the UK economy of around £9,200 per child, with around £4,000 of this figure returned to government through increased tax revenue and reduced public services costs. This means that for every £1 invested in breakfast provision at primary schools, over £50 is generated in benefits. 

 In Scotland, 41% of schools have no breakfast provision, and the report indicates there are as many as 250,000 children across Scotland at risk of starting the day too hungry to learn. And whilst the Scottish Government has committed to rolling out universal breakfast provision in this Parliament, Wales is the only UK nation with centrally funded free breakfast provision. In England, there is no commitment to provide universal breakfast provision contradicting Government rhetoric to level up communities and give all children the best start in life. A lack of Government investment to comprehensively cover schools' breakfast costs has resulted in the Department for Education failing to reach its target of funding free school breakfast provision in 2,500 schools by January 2022. The report recommends changes to make free breakfast provision sustainable for schools to run.  

Magic Breakfast’s recommendation to Government to urgently boost free school breakfast, help low-income families avert a hunger crisis and level up their children’s learning has received support from major food brands, education, and child poverty experts. 

Lindsey MacDonald, Chief Executive at Magic Breakfast, said: “The Hidden Hunger report exposes the lottery of school breakfast funding and provision in the UK and the impact that this has on children’s learning and life chances. As pupils struggle to catch up on lost learning and the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, Magic Breakfast is asking the Scottish and UK governments to implement meaningful funding for breakfast food, staffing, and support. This has been proven to drastically improve long term opportunities for future generations and increase the economic health of our nation.” 

Find out how you can support Magic Breakfast at



Notes to editors 

About Magic Breakfast 

Magic Breakfast is a registered charity providing healthy breakfasts to children and young people in the UK who arrive at school too hungry to learn, and expert support to their schools. The charity works with over 1,000 Primary, Secondary, ASL/Special Educational Needs Schools, and Pupil Referral Units in disadvantaged areas of Scotland and England, offering breakfasts to over 200,000 pupils each day to ensure they start their school day with the energy and nutrition they need to be able to make the most of their morning lessons.  

For more information on Magic Breakfast, the Hidden Hunger report or interview opportunities please contact Stephen Hart at Magic Breakfast.  

Funding free school breakfast 

Magic Breakfast proposes in its research additional sources of funding to extent a boost in breakfast spending in 2022 without putting additional cost on the taxpayer. Additional revenue to cover the £75m cost proposed in England could be achieved by changes to the Soft Drinks Industry levy. We support proposals to raise the top rate of the levy which contributes 95% of receipts and expanding the scope of the levy to 4.5g of sugar per 100ml. In Scotland, Magic Breakfast estimates an annual cost of around £28m to deliver our recommended model of provision in all primary and special schools in Scotland. This money should be allocated from unspent Pupil Equity Funding. 

Full report available on request. 

CONTACT: or 07967 550463.