Posted by SchoolDays Newshound on 22/09/2014. Tags: Education And Politics Teachers Parenting
Just €1.8m extra from Government could ensure that the most vulnerable children in the country could start the day with a good breakfast at school, said the authors of a new evaluation report on Breakfast Clubs.
Healthy Food For All – a charity focusing on reducing food poverty - called for this money to be prioritized in Budget 2015 as a sure-fire investment in children’s futures. The additional funding, which amounts to a 5% increase in the current School Meals Programme of €37m, should be targeted at providing breakfast clubs in all DEIS schools as a critical first step, the authors said. In addition, they recommended that €500,000 should be allocated from the Department of Education’s infrastructural fund so that schools can furnish space for breakfast clubs.
The first of its kind report, called Developing Breakfast Clubs
,was launched by An Tánaiste Joan Burton this morning when she sat down for breakfast with children and teachers at St. Eithne’s Girls National School
, Edenmore at 8:30 am.
Sinéad Keenan, Project Co-ordinator of Healthy Food for All, and one of the report authors, said that the evaluation had found that children’s attendance, punctuality, energy levels and participation in class had noticeably improved with the introduction of breakfast clubs in their schools.
“No child should start school without a nutritious breakfast,” she said. “Breakfast clubs that provide a nutritious start to young children are the smartest small investment we can make in ensuring a healthier next generation,” “It’s the ultimate seed funding and what’s better is that it will give you a guaranteed return.”
“We are asking the Government to put the nutritional needs of vulnerable children first when they are deciding on how they are going to allocate Budget 2015,” she said. “It’s a small amount at stake but the returns are priceless.”
The Pilot Programme was established to support the development of four breakfast clubs in north Dublin primary schools between January 2013 and June 2014. While the authors stress that the pilot is small, it is the first of its kind to look at the practicalities needed by schools to set up a breakfast club They also recommended that further research to explore the impact of breakfast clubs in different urban and rural settings.
In addition to adequate funding and infrastructure, the report shows that training and support for schools staff is essential.
It shows that the clubs were important social outlets for children where they learned to interact and eat together as a group. Co-ordinators also reported that children were more likely to discuss personal issues in the breakfast club than during class, so clubs were an opportunity to identify additional supports needed by vulnerable children. In addition, many children were opened up to new foods at the breakfast tables.
The Pilot Programme, which was funded through the Kellogg’s Corporate Citizenship Fund, ran in four primary schools in North Dublin:
St Catherine’s Infant Schools, Cabra
Holy Trinity National School, Donaghmede
St. Eithne’s Girl’s National School, Edenmore, Raheny
Holywell Educate Together School, Swords.
Healthy Food for All (HFfA) is an all-island charity seeking to address food poverty by promoting access, availability and affordability of healthy food for low-income groups. It has developed the country’s first Good Practice Guide for Breakfast Clubs, based on its findings, available at www.healthyfoodforall.com
Source: Press Release