22 October 2020

How are our partner schools getting breakfasts to children whilst maintaining the protective ‘bubbles’ that limit student and staff interaction?

The image of children enjoying their Magic Breakfast in the school canteen has been one we’ve been used to sharing for many years. But as children went back to school last month, schools faced huge challenges in how they were going to reach children at risk of hunger in the morning.

Children are kept in protective ‘bubbles’ limiting their contact with others to a manageable number, and everything possible is done to ensure those bubbles don’t burst. Many schools have had to deal with staffing shortages and so just don’t have the capacity to provide breakfasts as they’d like to. Hygiene of course, is always a primary concern.

Matt Vernon, Headteacher at Bayside Academy in Poole recognised that children needed feeding but like many other headteachers felt the only way was to provide breakfast safely was to give children breakfast packs that they could take home.

“We had our first breakfast box delivery last week. We provided every child with a bag of bagels in class to take home and then had a one way system for collection of cereals along the path to the exit to the school. If you imagine water distribution during the marathon then you're not far off! Three tables with cereal, porridge and fruit juice and staff with arms out to hand out.

It was striking how quickly items were taken up - times are incredibly tough and you could visibly see the weight lift of some families' shoulders. One less thing to think about, knowing that the children would eat well before coming into school. I also absolutely loved hearing the children talking about what they'd eat first. “

Several of our partner schools felt that providing packs to take home was a good way to ensure they could target the children who needed them most.

Pre Covid, Old Hall Drive in Gorton, Manchester ran a busy breakfast club feeding between 40 and 60 children every morning.

Headteacher, Hayley Brooker knew that when school reopened that couldn’t happen but as she says, “I was very mindful, I still wanted children to access breakfast”. Despite staff shortages she has managed to keep breakfast going whilst maintaining the children’s year group bubbles.

“The catering team prepares breakfast, bagels, cereal, porridge and juice and delivers it to stations outside the classrooms which the teachers then take inside. The children have staggered start times and the kitchen knows what time each class will be at their desks”

The classroom breakfasts are working well, and children are settled and ready to learn once the breakfast bowls are cleared away.

We hope it is not too long before we see scenes like this again.

But for now, however it happens, be it, direct deliveries to homes, breakfast packs sent home with the children or where possible a classroom breakfast, schools are doing all they can to ensure no child starts the day too hungry to learn.