21 December 2018

We had an amazing year here at Magic Breakfast, not only increasing the number of children we reach in our partner schools to more than 40,300, but also scaling up rapidly to meet the challenges of the new National School Breakfast Programme.

We were so grateful to the readers of inews who helped us raise £175,000 through the paper’s Christmas 2017 campaign, reaching that total in January was a great start to the year.

At the beginning of March we were delighted to launch Magic Breakfast in Scotland, starting with breakfast clubs in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife and North Ayrshire. Word soon spread, so that by the Autumn term we were providing more than 1,000 healthy breakfasts across Scotland daily.

As a result of hard work over the winter months we were very excited to win a tender from the Department for Education which is allowing us to expand the reach of the Magic Breakfast model dramatically.  In partnership with Family Action, we launched the National School Breakfast Programme in mid-March. The DfE is allocating funds from the soft drinks industry levy to enable us to set up or expand breakfast provision in a further 1,770 schools by March 2020, with a focus on the most disadvantaged areas of the country. Working in tandem with Family Action, and with the support of organisations such as Impetus PEF, we are on schedule to meet that target.

One of the first NSBP breakfast clubs at Corporation Road, Darlington

It has been great to hear from new partner schools about the success of their breakfast clubs. School breakfast provision varies in format depending on the facilities available. Many schoolchildren are now enjoying playground bagels as they arrive, others tucking into porridge in the school hall. Teachers are reporting happier, more settled children, with improved attendance levels and fewer late arrivals. One teacher in Durham told us about a child at her school.

“He was usually late in the morning and was often upset and sad. Now he comes for breakfast before school … he is so much happier as he starts his day with a warm greeting and some fun with his friends.

He loves his bagels and often has cereal too. Instead of lying with his head on the desk he is ready to learn and more importantly, calmer.”

We have all read some shocking reports about child poverty this year which makes the National School Breakfast Programme all the more vital and timely.  Our staff, too, hear shocking stories from teachers about the level of need among pupils and their families, from parents fainting at the school gates due to lack of food, to staff providing food and clothes to the children they teach out of their own pockets.

In the meantime, breakfast provision in our original 480 Magic Breakfast partner schools continues to thrive with the fantastic help of so many great supporters, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Amazon and players of People’s Postcode Lottery.  These schools do not receive funding from the Department for Education and so our fundraising team has been working hard to ensure we can continue to provide nutritious breakfasts to these 40,300 children, and afford to take on those schools on our waiting list which are not eligible for help from the National School Breakfast Programme.

Our restaurant partners too have been brilliant in generating funds. D&D restaurant group supported us during SATS week in May, when we serve an extra 44,000 breakfasts to ensure every Year 6 child was ready to tackle their SATS tests. Foxlow hosted a fantastic Pancake Day fundraiser in their restaurants and Dishoom treated children from 6 schools to their annual Dishoom ‘takeover’.

A Magic Breakfast at Foxlow Clerkenwell

Our founder, Carmel McConnell MBE, has done a fantastic job of raising awareness of the extent of child hunger in the UK and publicising the National School Breakfast Programme, publicity that was boosted significantly by her success at the Women of the Year Awards in October when she was presented with the Campaigner Award. There followed appearances on BBC, ITV and Sky News as well as lots of newspaper coverage. All very important for getting the word out to schools about how we can help them tackle the pressing issue of classroom hunger.

Winner of the Campaigner Award at Women of the Year Awards

We have had to grow to meet our new challenges in 2018, so there have been several new faces in our team, coming in with fresh ideas and valuable experience.  At Magic Breakfast we are all working hard towards one goal, to end hunger in the morning where it is a barrier to education. There is much still to be done, especially bearing in mind that over 1 in 4 children in the UK is growing up in poverty, but with your help, in 2019 we will be able to make great strides towards ensuring that no child in the UK is too hungry to learn.