In the news recently it was announced that the national school breakfast programme, a Government scheme launched in April 2018 has been further extended for another year with an additional spend of £11.8 million. This caught my interest, as I’ve been doing a lot of work recently looking at the food offer across the whole day at a number of schools in South London.
This additional resource is an extra boost in giving more children the chance to eat breakfast at school before lessons start so as to have enough energy to concentrate and perform at their best during the school day. There are still questions around how breakfast clubs can be supported on a longer term basis, a year isn’t a long commitment and this area still needs further addressing. Another issue here is the infrequency of monitoring the quality of the provision, which can be a real mixed bag.
If you’re a parent of a school age child, what can you do? Does your child attend a breakfast club? If so, make sure you know what’s on the menu and who’s serving it (is it a catering company or done in-house by school staff?). Is it a nutritionally sound offer? Ideally breakfast is a good opportunity to hit the ground running and get in at least 1 portion of fruit or veg to hit that daily target of at least 5 portions. What starchy foods are available (e.g. porridge oats, toast) and are they varied each week? Are there whole grain varieties available (think wholemeal bagels, bread and crumpets!)? What drinks are on offer (milk and plain tap water are the best drink options)? Breakfast cereals should ideally be low (green traffic light label) or medium (amber) in sugar content. Protein and dairy are important food groups too and should be provided as part of a balanced breakfast. The school food standards also apply to breakfast club food, so if you’re not happy with what you see then raise it with a member of staff! Don’t forget these pointers for a healthy breakfast apply to both adults as well, not just children! If your child attends a breakfast club what do you think of the food? Let me know!