For immediate release: Friday 22 October

Campaign calls on Chancellor for £75m to fund free school breakfasts – as Covid risks widening gulf in life chances for disadvantaged children

  • Magic Breakfast charity launches its #HungerIsStillHere campaign, seeking £75m in new spending from the Department for Education to ‘level up school breakfasts’ and help narrow the education attainment gap.
  • A survey of 750 of the charity's partner schools finds 79% of schools believe that child hunger has increased in their community in the last year and 89% believe poverty has increased.
  • The campaign comes after yesterday’s announcement by The Education Policy Institute whose new report suggests a minimum of £78bn in lifetime earnings will be lost by children who missed out on education in England due to Covid-19.

Children’s food charity Magic Breakfast has made an appeal to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ‘level up breakfast’ funding to thousands more schools in England’s most deprived communities so that pupils can benefit from free breakfast provision during term time.

Magic Breakfast’s proposal to invest a further £75m from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy into breakfast provision aims to reach a total of 7,300 schools and nearly 900,000 pupils, boosting the levelling up agenda by targeting the most disadvantaged primary schoolchildren with support during term time, at no extra cost to the taxpayer.

The Government is investing £24m into school breakfasts until 2023, but this funding will only provide limited support to, at best, 2,500 of the estimated 7,500+ schools who are eligible for support according to the Department for Education’s own criteria. The current funding for school breakfasts for 2021-23 has seen vital food costs and tailored support for schools cut back, and falls short in ensuring the children most at risk of hunger are reached.

Magic Breakfast provides healthy breakfasts to over 200,000 children at risk of hunger in schools across England and Scotland in its mission that no child is too hungry to learn.

Their call to level up breakfast funding follows a recent survey of 750 schools Magic Breakfast supports, which found that 79% of schools believe child hunger has increased in their community in the last year, and 89% believe poverty has increased. 41% of schools reported increased take up of breakfast provision as a result of families being negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Schools reported the positive impacts of healthy school breakfasts such as improved concentration (94%), readiness to learn (96%), educational attainment (81%) and mental and emotional health and wellbeing (81%), with 85% of schools reporting that school breakfast has formed important part of their Covid-19 recovery strategy

Free school breakfast provision has been proven a successful policy intervention, with research by Magic Breakfast, Pro Bono Economics and Heinz finding that disadvantaged pupils completing Key Stage 1 in England and Primary 3 in Scotland with one year’s worth of school breakfast provision could generate long-term economic benefits of over £9,000 per child.

Rachael Anderson, Head of Schools at Magic Breakfast said: “You can't level up education on an empty stomach. Free school breakfast is proven to lead to long term attainment and economic benefits. Our plan would help make the Government’s levelling up a reality not a theory in communities hardest hit during the pandemic.”

Magic Breakfast Youth Campaigner, Rowan, 15 said: "I have gone days where I didn’t get the chance to eat breakfast, and the breakfast I got in the morning at school for free changed my outlook on school because I would not sit in class hungry. We're asking the Chancellor to take action so no more children like me have to experience hunger as a barrier to learning.”

Magic Breakfast Youth Campaigners Sara and Nadia, both of whom have experience of being on Free School Meals are asking members of the public to support the campaign by emailing their local MP at: 


For more information please contact Jo Matthews, Press and Celebrity Manager at Magic Breakfast at [email protected] or on 07377 177443.

Notes to editors

About Magic Breakfast

Magic Breakfast is a registered charity providing healthy breakfasts to children 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 England and Scotland, offering breakfasts to over 200,000 children 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. 

Magic Breakfast’s Budget Proposal

Magic Breakfast’s Budget Proposal would use expenditure raised from existing tax revenue to reach 893,000 pupils in an estimated 7,300 schools in England that have significant evidence of need with a nutritious school breakfast. Significant evidence of need is defined within existing DfE guidance as schools with at least 50% of pupils in IDACI bands A-F. The proposal would cost an additional £75 million per year and apply to all eligible state-funded primary, special schools, and pupil referral units, with an option for later expansion to state-funded secondary schools.

School breakfast – a postcode lottery

**Breakfast provision in the UK varies and is not universally provided like Free School Meals. England has limited support with state funded provision seeking to reach around 30% of the 7,300+ schools serving the most deprived areas. The Scottish Government's committed in 2021 to roll out universal, free school breakfasts to all children in primary and special schools. In Wales the Government offers grant funding to schools via its Free Breakfast Initiative.