The news that over 10,000 children were admitted to hospital with malnutrition last year, reveals that the epidemic of food poverty is not getting any better. Carmel was a guest on the Shelagh Fogarty programme on Tuesday 5th March, along with Dr Colin Mickey, Chair of The Nutrition Committee at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health who is lobbying the House of Commons for urgent changes to stop malnourishment.
Magic Breakfast founder Carmel McConnell explained to Radio 5 live’s Shelagh Fogarty why she started Magic Breakfast and how the charity aims to solve the problem of child hunger as a barrier to education, for good.
Magic Breakfast was set up over 10 years ago, to provide free healthy breakfasts to schools with over 50% free school meals. Nearly half of teachers* have previously had to bring in breakfast for hungry kids. Carmel explained how some schools actually stopped doing sports in the mornings as children lacked energy, having not eaten since their school lunch the day before.
The charity has developed a national plan to provide healthy breakfasts, parent education and development support to help schools become able to feed children who arrive too hungry or too malnourished to learn.
Carmel applauded the investment being made by pioneering Blackpool council who have launched a free school breakfast trial to reach all primary school pupils in the area. Andrew Brannigan, a teacher at Devonshire Primary in Blackpool explained how ‘the new scheme aids learning and the pupils are definitely more alert’. However, Carmel stressed that we need a national strategy to solve the problem for good. One way to get free schol breakfasts established as an essential part of the school day is through the School Food Plan, a review reporting back to the Education secretary, Michael Gove. Carmel is one of the review’s expert panel with other leading school food organisations, working with the founders of Leon, Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent to make national school food recommendations. More on this work can be found at http://www.education.gov.uk/schoolfoodplan
The School Food Plan is aiming for some early wins – for example it’s recommendation to reintroduce cookery to the school curriculum from 2014 has been approved.
In the face of rising child malnutrition, Magic Breakfast needs your help
Magic Breakfast are urgently trying to raise more funds to support even more breakfast clubs. We currently support 228 schools and have a further 130 on our waiting list who desperately need our help. Thank you for reading and please follow us on twitter @magic_breakfast, @magic_carmel
Listen to the interview extract here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p015xl3m
* Responses to Guardian Teacher’s Network: Hunger Survey, June 2012