This toolkit is designed to help teachers, governors and parents understand the advantages of, and how to set up, a breakfast club in their school.
It is split into 4 sections
What is a breakfast club?
Why start a breakfast club?
How do I start a Breakfast club at my School?
Other useful Information.
1. What is a breakfast club?
School breakfast clubs serve food to children who arrive early at school, before formal lessons begin. The way in which the clubs operate depends on the individual circumstances of the school. However, many schools work closely with their school caterer or others to arrange an informal breakfast in a classroom serving fruit, toast, breakfast cereal and drinks.
Breakfast clubs have been operating in the UK for several years and the emphasis of different clubs varies considerably. For example, some breakfast clubs have objectives of integrating study or welfare support, some include play activities, while others focus on providing breakfast and a time for informal interaction between children and school staff, sometimes also involving parents.
A recent study of breakfast clubs summarises four main benefits :
- Improving health and nutrition
- Improving children’s education
- Meeting children’s social needs
- Improving and supporting parent and family life.
A breakfast club involves pupils, school staff, parents and the wider community. It aims to improve the health and well-being of children, as well as the staff and volunteers involved. A breakfast club also underpins the goals of a health promoting school.
2. Why start a school Breakfast Club?
There are many potential benefits of setting up a school breakfast club. Research has shown that eating breakfast improves children’s problem solving abilities, their memory, concentration levels, visual perception and creative thinking. An evaluation of breakfast clubs by the New Policy Institute stated that all schools involved believed that attendance at the breakfast club provided a good start to the day, leaving the children more settled, attentive and motivated to learn. Breakfast club co-ordinators have also reported improved punctuality and school attendance.
The School Food Trust has assessed existing several schemes and sets out the benefits that having a breakfast club can bring to a school.
Eating a healthy breakfast is important to everyone’s health needs. Breakfast provides an ideal opportunity for children to begin the day by eating bread, other cereals, fruit and vegetables, which are all important elements of a healthy and balanced diet. Results from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2000) show children aged 4-18 eat less than half the recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables.
Breakfast clubs can help meet several of the National Indicators set for councils to measure their Local Local Area Agreement (LAA).
|Indicator Number||Theme||How breakfast clubs contribute
|NI 7||Environment for a thriving third sector
Is a measure of how the statutory sector supports the success of third sector organisations. For example
• Funding - providing grants and other
Breakfast clubs are often run by community or parents groups on enabled by the school.
Case Study: Clarences School Teeside breakfast club, run by volunteer mums.
|NI 55 & NI 56||Reducing Obesity levels in Primary school age children in reception & year 6.||
By using breakfast clubs to transmit healthy eating messages they can help reduce obesity.
||Young peoples participation in positive activities.||
Research demonstrates that the activities young people participate in out-of-school hours have a significant bearing on their later life outcomes. Positive activities are a good use of young people’s time because they provide opportunities to:
• acquire, and practice, specific social, physical, emotional and intellectual skills
3. How do I start a breakfast club at my school?
When planning your breakfast club, keep it simple, especially at the start. Gradually build up and develop menus as the club becomes established. Assess school staff and parental interest and demand for a breakfast club before you start. Hold a special meeting for parents to discuss your plans. Investigate the type of breakfast food the children typically eat. Remember to consider religious and cultural aspects of food choice. If you have a school caterer, meet with them to decide whether it would be possible for them to offer a breakfast menu, initially on a trial basis.
Promote the breakfast club to encourage the children to attend. By involving them from the outset through encouraging children to, for example, name the club or design a menu can prove very successful. It may take time to establish the club within the school and it is vital to continue promoting interest in the breakfast club once it has been set up. Offering an end of term prize for good attendance; sending out regular newsletters; or encouraging school staff to be involved and promote the club as an integral part of the school are all successful approaches to ensuring the continuity of the club.
It is important to ensure that breakfastclubs based in schools meet the food based standards for schools.
Standards for food other than lunch are:
- No confectionery should be sold in schools.
- No snacks other than nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits (without added salt, fat or sugar) should be sold in schools. Dried fruit may contain up to 0.5% vegetable oil as a glazing agent.
- Fruit and vegetables must be provided in all school food outlets. This could include fresh, dried, frozen, tinned and juiced products.
- Children and young people must have access at all times to free, fresh drinking water.
No sweetened soft drinks should be sold. The only drinks available should be water (still or sparkling), milk (skimmed or semi-skimmed), fruit or vegetable juice, plain yoghurt drinks or combinations of these. Tea, coffee, low calorie hot chocolate. For more information on the types of drinks permitted in schools see the updated drinks table.
For more details visit the School Food Trust website.
You may wish to seek funds to keep the cost of the breakfast menu low. Use existing funds within the school and opportunities for fund-raising. Acquire funds from both government initiatives and local projects. Explore the potential of your local community, for example local shops or supermarkets may be able to provide support and local libraries may donate or exchange books or toys. For example Greggs bakers support clubs in many schools (see links below)
If the school does not have a dining room, make sure that a suitable breakfast club room is available. Think about how the children will arrive at the club and make suitable arrangements for before school supervision when crossing the roads. Pay attention to relevant regulations, such as the Food Safety regulations applying to premises, equipment, storage of food and disposal of waste.
4. Other useful information.
The New Policy Institute (NPI) has been researching breakfast clubs since 1998. It has several useful publications on its website
- Improving breakfast clubs: lessons from the best – Feb 2002
- Breakfast clubs: a 'how to' guide – Jan 2000
- Food for thought: breakfast clubs and their challenges – Oct 1999
- Fit for school: how breakfast clubs meet health, education and child care needs – Mar 1999
The Scottish Community Diet Project has produced a second edition of its very comprehensive toolkit “Breakfast Clubs...More a Head Start”
Breakfast Club Plus is a UK-wide network run by ContinYou the community learning charity. It has extensive information about funding, evaluation and lots more
To join the National Breakfast club register which is a network of clubs across the UK.
The Leeds Children's Breakfast Initiative (LCBI) is a partnership that includes representatives from Health, Education, Childcare, Play and the Leeds Children's Fund. We support the development of school based breakfast provision across Leeds. As well as allocating startup grants to schools, the LCBI offers a wide range of support and guidance to allow schools to develop appropriate, high quality and sustainable breakfast schemes. For practical advice regarding setting up and running a breakfast club please see the 'LCBI Good Practice Guide'
The Greggs Breakfast Club programme was started in 2000 with the aim of providing a free, nutritious breakfast for primary school children in areas of particular social disadvantage. Greggs Breakfast Clubs are free of charge, both to the school and to the pupils that benefit from it. This is delivered through a partnership between the local Greggs Division which funds and supplies the food and the primary school itself. A vital element in the success of the clubs, are the volunteer groups from the school community who serve the food and generally run them.
This toolkit was updated 16/10/09