14 June 2024

School Breakfasts in the Spotlight 

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Written by Magic Breakfast Team

Home > What we do > News and views > School Breakfasts in the Spotlight 

During election campaigns filled with speeches, debates, and quirky photo opportunities, the parties’ text-heavy manifestos can often seem a bit dry. These documents, full of careful language and flashy graphics, aren’t always the most exciting part of the campaign. But as voters, they show us what each party plans to do if they win. 

Poverty in the UK is a critical issue, with nearly one in three children growing up in homes where it’s hard to make ends meet. This struggle often leads to food insecurity, meaning 3 million children risk starting their day too hungry to learn. Hunger affects children’s ability to focus, remember, and succeed in school. It also deepens inequality and health issues, continuing the cycle of poverty. 

This election campaign, like all others, might get heated at times, but Magic Breakfast is heartened to see that all major parties agree on supporting children and young people. The Conservative Party’s manifesto says education is ‘the closest thing we have to a silver bullet.’ The Liberal Democrats talk about ensuring children are ‘properly nourished.’ The Green Party wants to ‘work towards ending child poverty and opening up opportunities to all.’ Labour speaks about preparing children with the skills to thrive in the future. 

Providing free school breakfasts can help tackle one of the biggest barriers to learning. It can also reduce the impact of child poverty, support families with busy mornings, and bring significant economic benefits. We know that nutritious school breakfasts help with attendance, concentration, and memory, especially for the most disadvantaged pupils. 

Only two parties, the Green Party and Labour directly commit to the delivery of breakfast provision across all of England’s primary schools. This is a move that we obviously welcome, a move that is vital if we are to achieve a future where no child or young person is too hungry to learn.  The Conservative manifesto references their previous achievements in delivering an extension of free school meals, alongside this they also created England’s National School Breakfast Programme back in 2018, a programme we’re proud to have delivered in its first iteration. In the Liberal Democrat manifesto there is a commitment to expanding school lunches to children living in poverty, a highly welcome move. 

At the start of the campaign, we wrote to the leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Green Party, and Scottish National Party. We asked them to commit to policies that support children and young people at greatest risk of morning hunger, enable schools to deliver a mixed model of breakfast provision, provide advice to schools on maximising uptake, and fund breakfast provision with new money. 

These requests are backed by our supporters and staff in hundreds of partner schools, and over two decades of evidence. Providing breakfast in schools is the right choice economically, academically, and ethically. It’s a way to close the achievement gap and reduce educational inequality. While it’s not a solution to child poverty, it can help lessen the impact and must sit within the policy levers that the next government pulls to help with this national mission. 

With just a few weeks until polling day, we need your support. You can sign our online petition to party leaders, email your parliamentary candidates, and use our pre-prepared pack to speak with candidates on your doorstep.  

Together, we can create a future where no child is too hungry to learn. 

Whilst Magic Breakfast operates across Scotland and England, the policy that we focus on most, education and breakfast provision, is devolved to the Scottish Parliament which is not up for election this year. Therefore, our analysis focuses on the main parties in England which released their manifestos this week. 

This page was last updated on

14 June 2024

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