School breakfast club

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Children eating at a classroom in Maryland, United States, as part of an event to launch International School Meals Day on 08 Mar 2013. The Maryland class is video conferenced to a school in Ayrshire, Scotland, with some of their children visible on the screens. Both schools make provision for some of their children to have breakfast as well as lunch.

A school breakfast club is a provision for children to eat a healthy breakfast in a safe environment before their first class. The term "breakfast club" is commonly used to describe such facilities in the United Kingdom.

Breakfast clubs generally enhance both academic performance and behavior, especially for children whose parents might not otherwise be able to afford to provide them with regular meals. Breakfast provision is however less prevalent compared with school lunch, both in the UK and worldwide. As of 2013, only about half the school children in the UK have access to a breakfast club.

Attendance of a breakfast club is not mandatory; many parents prefer to feed their children at home. The clubs are often run by schools, but can also be community run. Schools themselves are the most common location for breakfast clubs, but they can also be found in churches, community halls or even commercial premises. Breakfast clubs are sometimes open to children from more than one school.


The earliest known modern advocate for school dinners was Count Rumford in the late 18th century. School dinners became more widely available in the 19th and 20th century, though generally only lunch was provided. This began to change after the introduction of the Oslo breakfast in 1932, an uncooked meal of nutritional ingredients. Between the wars the Oslo breakfast became famous worldwide; claims were widely reported that it helped children fed on it grow several inches taller than they would otherwise. Similar initiatives were launched in several countries across the world. In the United States, a major step forward in the provision of breakfast for schoolchildren was the 1966 launch of the School Breakfast Program.[1][2]

In the UK, breakfast clubs were introduced in the 1990s, driven not just by concern for children's nutrition but by parental demand for a supervised place to leave their children in the early morning. Changes in gender roles and more demanding workplaces meant an increasing number of women were no longer able to look after their children until the start of school. By 1999 there were over 700 breakfast clubs operating in the UK.[3] After the lasting global inflation in the price of food that began in late 2006, there were increased efforts to set up new breakfast clubs, in part due to greater awareness of children who arrived at school suffering from hunger, a condition that reduced their ability to concentrate and sometimes led to disruptive behavior. A 2011 report by Kellogg's found that the number of breakfast clubs had increased to over 20,000, though also that several thousand had or were at risk of closure due to lack of funds.[4] [5] In 2013 a survey of 552 staff for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers found that just over half those questioned said their school provided a breakfast club.[1][2][6][7] The Conservative's 2017 election manifesto had included a promise to provide free school breakfasts to all primary school children, though by 2018 this had been abandoned. Yet a commitment remains for the government to provide £26 million extra funding for new and existing breakfast clubs.[8]


There is no standard model for a breakfast club. Some are run by and physically located in schools. Others are run by community groups, businesses or churches, or by a combination of such actors working in partnership. Some clubs make a small charge for breakfast, providing them free only to those who qualify for free school meals. Other clubs provide free breakfasts for all children, to avoid those from poor families suffering from stigmatization. Guidance, funding and general support for running breakfast clubs in the UK is available from a number of sources, including from County Councils,[9] the charity Magic Breakfast,[10] and the food companies Greggs [11][12] and Kellog's.[5][13] Breakfast clubs typically stay open for between 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, and close before the children's first morning lesson.[9] Sometimes the clubs are staffed by volunteers, though sometimes there are paid caterers, and clubs in schools can be supervised by teachers or support staff.[1]


Breakfast clubs can be especially valuable for children whose parents are not able to afford to provide them with regular morning meals. They can provide both short- and long-term health benefits. Children who receive breakfast often perform better at learning, and can also be better behaved. Breakfast clubs can also improve the child's long-term health by providing a well balanced nutritious meal. Secondary benefits of breakfast clubs include improving attendance, helping to prevent disadvantaged children from experiencing social isolation, and helping with children who would otherwise not have adult supervision in the first hour or so before school. A significant majority of teachers hold the view that school breakfast clubs are beneficial in achieving educational goals.. For example, in a 2013 survey of 552 teachers, 387 (71%) said they believed breakfast clubs have a positive effect on pupil's concentration, but four teachers (0.7%) said it had a negative impact. Questioned about the impact on behavior, 325 (60.2%) were positive, while 11 (2%) said breakfast clubs have a negative effect.[1][4][5][6]

Various studies in both the U.S and Europe, some dating back to the 20th century, found that breakfast provision at schools boost pupil's educational attainment. Older studies have been criticised for their methodology however.[14] Some studies also found evidence of negative behaviour effects, and even that in certain circumstances a majority of children were unhappy with breakfast clubs: when either there was insufficient care given to ensure the clubs were stimulating enough to avoid boredom, or when access had been restricted just to poorer children, which could leave participants feeling picked on.[15][14]

A 2016 report, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Department for Education, based on research by the National Children's Bureau and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, found that free school breakfast clubs can boost children's educational attainment by as much as two months. The study found the benefits arose not just from the eating of a nutritious breakfast, but from also from attending the club itself.[16][17][14]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Maria Cross, Barbara MacDonald (2009). Nutrition in Institutions. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 46, 47, 83–87. ISBN 978-1405121255.
  2. ^ a b Gordon W. Gunderson (29 January 2013). "History of School dinners". Food and Nutrition Service. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  3. ^ Nick Donovan and Cathy Street (March 1999). "FIT FOR SCHOOL: HOW BREAKFAST CLUBS MEET HEALTH, EDUCATION AND CHILDCARE NEEDS" (PDF). New Policy Institute. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  4. ^ a b Jay Rayner (16 September 2012). "Why school breakfast clubs are on the education frontline". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Tracy McVeigh (23 October 2011). "Breakfast clubs can help to rescue a school, but more than half face closure". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  6. ^ a b Katie Davies (19 March 2013). "Association of Teachers and Lecturers Press Release" (PDF). Association of Teachers and Lecturers. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  7. ^ Andrew Walter (2012). William A Dando (ed.). Food and Famine in the 21st Century. ABC-CLIO. pp. 171–181. ISBN 978-1598847307.
  8. ^ Katy Morton (19 March 2018). "Magic Breakfast". Nursery World. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Extended Schools Breakfast Club Guidance". North Yorkshire County Council. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Magic Breakfast homepage". Magic Breakfast. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  11. ^ Katie Davies (22 March 2011). "North East teachers' warning over breakfast clubs". The Journal. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  12. ^ "About the Breakfast Club Programme". North Yorkshire County Council. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  13. ^ "What is a breakfast club". Kellogg's. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  14. ^ a b c llen Greaves ,Claire Crawford, Amy Edwards, Christine Farquharson, Grace Trevelyan, Emma Wallace, and Clarissa White (November 2016). [ "Magic Breakfast"] Check |url= value (help) (PDF). Education Endowment Foundation. Retrieved 13 July 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ "The best start in life? Alleviating deprivation, improving social mobility and eradicating child poverty" (PDF). House of Commons of the United Kingdom. 3 March 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  16. ^ "Magic Breakfast evaluation". National Children's Bureau. 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  17. ^ E (2017). "Magic Breakfast". Education Endowment Foundation. Retrieved 13 July 2018.

External links[edit]