Free breakfasts for children in 20 borough schools

Published: Monday, March 27, 2023

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  • Pilot scheme provides a hot, nutritious breakfast for any child that needs it 
  • Scheme funded by Wandsworth Council and run in partnership with the Magic Breakfast charity 
  • Part of wider work to tackle food insecurity during the Cost of Living crisis 
  • Scheme could be expanded if successful 

Schools across the borough are taking part in a pilot scheme giving all children access to healthy, hot breakfasts. 

Wandsworth Council is working with the charity Magic Breakfast to run the year-long, council-funded scheme. If successful it will be rolled out to other schools.  

The scheme is being piloted by 20 primary schools. Kate Stock, cabinet member for children, has been along to one of them, St Mary’s in Battersea to see the scheme in action. She said: “We believe that every child has the basic right to healthy food. Understanding the link between healthy breakfasts and readiness to learn makes addressing food poverty a priority for us.” 

Associate headteacher Clare Mitchell said that as well as sit-down breakfasts, all children could also grab a hot buttered bagel on their way into school. “It means every child has access to a breakfast and can start the day fuelled and ready to learn.  

Three percent of primary school children in Wandsworth have nothing to eat for breakfast and 17 per cent of secondary pupils don’t eat lunch. Nineteen per cent are obese by the age of 11 because less healthy food tends to be cheaper.  

The Wandsworth Foodbank reports the number of emergency food supplies to local people has increased by 53 per cent compared to before the pandemic, with a third of them going to children. It also reports that six out of ten parents at the foodbank had skipped meals so their children can eat.  

Magic Breakfasts are part of a wider plan to make sure more children get access to free, nutritious meals. The Children’s School Food Strategy aims to tackle food poverty during the Cost of Living crisis. 

Recently the council announced it has increased the value of the vouchers it provides to families on free school meals during the holidays from £15 a week to £20 to address child hunger. Wandsworth has also welcomed a scheme from the Mayor of London offering free school meals to all primary pupils for one year.

Other work will include encouraging all eligible families to apply for free school meals and healthy start vouchers, drawing up a new specification for the school meals contract and running holiday schemes that provide free lunches for children on free school meals, like the upcoming Wandsworth Connected Easter holiday scheme. 

Find out about other support on the Cost of Living Hub.