6 September 2021

Pupils are back at school across the country and whilst bubbles and staggered starts are no longer in place, things are still a long way from normal.

Restrictions vary. In Scotland masks and social distancing are still required and across the UK all schools are expected to increase classroom ventilation and have extra hygiene measures in place.

So how does this impact how we provide breakfast?

Our school partners work closely with schools to find the best way to reach children at risk of hunger.

During school closures and lockdowns we adapted our model and provided home breakfast parcels, either distributed by the school, or by our supporters, and we were pleased to be able to continue this throughout the summer holidays.

Whilst some schools are still distributing parcels for the first couple of weeks of term, the majority of schools are telling us they intend to return to school breakfasts as soon as possible. We are delighted to hear this as our experience tells us that breakfasts are more likely to reach the children who need them most in the school setting.

Last term many children were offered breakfast in the classroom, so that they could still receive breakfast in their bubbles. This was something that some teachers used to resist, fearing mess in the classroom at the start of the day, but many have let us know that it has been working very well and allows the children to settle down before the school day begins and they intend to continue with classroom breakfasts this term.

Breakfast in school is an important social time too, providing a stigma free relaxed start to the day, with a chance to talk to staff or socialise with children from other year groups. Schools have told us how much they missed this when bubbles prevented them mixing the children.

We recently asked our schools in Scotland, how hunger and/or poverty impacted their pupils. The answers proved that breakfast provision in school is more important than ever. One said there had been a "huge increase in the number of pupils and their families reporting food insecurity. Significant increase in the number of reports from colleagues, of pupils showing signs of hunger - headaches, stomach pain inattentiveness, distress. Increase in pupils reporting anxiety related to food insecurity."

Many families rely on school breakfasts, and as the new term begins, we are looking forward to working with all our partner schools, understanding the challenges they face, and doing all we can to reach children who might otherwise be too hungry to learn.