Back in January I was a guest at the Kellogg's factory in Manchester and I learnt about the Government initiative "Breakfast For Life" which centered around ALL school-aged children having access to a breakfast to give them the best start to the day. Missing breakfast is directly proportionate to poor concentration in class and obesity and illness later in life. In the information that Kellogg's gave me I found the most surprising and disturbing statistics were:
- 1.7 million children age 0-5 will skip breakfast
- 1.4 million children age 6-10 will skip breakfast
- 2.3 million children age 11-16 will skip breakfast
added to that is this
- 97% of teachers said that better concentration was a key perceived benefit of eating breakfast
- 84% of teachers said those students that eat breakfast are better behaved
- 79% said there is a clear link between breakfast and academic achievement
As a parent, I have always felt that it is my responsibility to ensure that my child(ren) is provided with the opportunity for a good meal before they start school. For all three children I have been lucky that breakfast clubs have been provided at each of their primary schools. One was subsidised and another I paid a small price for (50p per day). Whilst attendance at the breakfast club meant that we had to leave the house a little bit earlier, it was worth it to know that they were sat with their peers munching away on a great breakfast of toast, cereal, milk, tea and more. Plus I was relieved of any food battles, breakfast pots and The Great Last Minute School Rush. It was also fab for working parents as they had those all-important extra few minutes to head off to work.
However, what was really concerning for me was that when the children moved up to high school the breakfast club provision was non-existent. How many of you battle with your tweens and teens at breakfast time? If they are anything like mine they will roll out of bed at the last possible minute, get set back upstairs twice - once to have a wash and brush their teeth and the second time to collect their homework diary - then they will moan that they don't have time to sit down to wolf down a bowl of cereal. For me, providing a breakfast club for high school aged children is just as important as the provision of breakfast clubs in primary schools. I know my children have left our house and headed straight for the local bakery for a warm sausage roll or a bag of crisps on the way to school. Not ideal!
I want to see more breakfast club provision in high schools AS WELL AS primary schools. Kellogg's have some ideas how to help support breakfast clubs in primary schools but these are easily adaptable to high schools:
- Get your school to register with Give A Child A Breakfast where Kellogg's will advise about training and start-up grants
- Buy a box of Kellogg's Cornflakes and take it to your child's breakfast club (but maybe arrange a rota with the other parents or there will be 58 boxes of cornflakes and a serious lack of storage space)
- Share the info on the Give A Child A Breakfast page with your friends and online community by using the social media facilities (Facebook like, Email share or Twitter hashtag #giveabreakfast)
Are any teachers or assistant staff willing to make the first move? Can the PTA or Governors step in and propose a way to introduce the breakfast club into the high schools in conjunction with homework clubs? I might be way off track here but someone must know how to do it?
It's up to us to make the difference and the changes. We need to give our children the right message about healthy eating so it becomes second nature and so that they pass on the right message to the next generation. We also need to ensure that poverty isn't a barrier to health and success.
PS. This had to be the title, didn't it? I'm no Molly Ringwald but I could have done with a bit of Judd Nelson.