As Covid-19 hit, we shifted our focus from educating children and schools about healthy food, to distributing nutritious breakfasts. Our Breakfast Boxes programme (BB) began in May 2020, providing free healthy breakfast boxes to families vulnerable to food insecurity across Lambeth and Southwark.
BB was designed with Impact on Urban Health, part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity. We delivered breakfast supplies to schools, where school staff and volunteers helped to pack and distribute the boxes. When schools closed again in the winter, we recommenced the service and have now delivered over one million breakfasts!
Our boxes’ ingredients are checked by a public health nutritionist to ensure they meet the School Food Standards. This means we know that we have provided a million nutritious starts to children’s days.
The programme has also seen healthy starts to James Robinson’s days, as the headteacher of Camelot School has been delivering breakfast boxes along with his teaching team. He has been clocking up 30,000 steps before his workday even began!
“It’s been a privilege for me to get involved and a lifeline for our families. We are one of the most deprived schools in Southwark and our families were stunned by the quality of the ingredients and fresh fruit.”
- James Robinson, Headteacher, Camelot School
Schools have also told us how important the BB programme has been in enabling them to maintain contact with children and families while home learning has been taking place. Schools are best placed as hubs of their communities to determine who will benefit most from breakfast boxes. This is a more nuanced, community-driven approach to distribution than using eligibility criteria such as those for free school meals (FSM).
"I have two teenage children in the house, and we were unsure where the next meal was coming from. The thought of them going to bed hungry or their food not being nutritious enough was very scary. However, once we started receiving the boxes, it was a blessing and a comfort.”
- Parent, Archbishop Tenison's School
BB has demonstrated that food insecurity goes far beyond those entitled to free school meals. As we have seen over the past year, food insecurity has only been worsened during the pandemic. This is why, as we deliver our millionth breakfast, we ask the Government to consider reviewing its school food policy and implementing the recommendations of the National Food Strategy Part One.
This landmark achievement for School Food Matters and all of those involved in the Breakfast Boxes programme has been no mean feat. We want to thank all of the teachers, volunteers and families who joined together in this mass community effort to get nutritious breakfasts to the children of Lambeth and Southwark. None of this could have happened without the support of our funders at Impact on Urban Health and Food Power for Generation Covid. And, thanks to over £100,000 from public donations, we were able to extend the programme over the school holidays. A million thank yous for a million breakfasts.