How breakfast bagels gave schoolkids a boost

06 November 2018 | North West England

Magic Breakfast

Every child receives a healthy free breakfast every day.

They say it’s the most important meal of the day.

But in the morning rush to get out of the house, breakfast sometimes gets forgotten.

That is why Old Hall Drive Academy primary school in Gorton, Manchester, has introduced a fantastic new scheme called ‘Bagels in the Playground’ to help the school community thrive.

Principal Hayley Brooker acted after realising that many kids were turning up to school with empty bellies or if they had eaten, it was usually just a bag of crisps or a bar of chocolate.

The lack of a healthy breakfast had a huge impact on their ability to learn. Hayley wanted to ensure each child had a healthy breakfast before the busy school day started.

She successfully applied for the school to join Magic Breakfast - a life-changing charity launched to help children in disadvantaged areas get the best start to their day.

“We used to have a breakfast club but could only cater for 40-50 children at a time for space reasons,” explains Hayley. “Our hall was just not big enough. We also had budgetary restraints. Then we were introduced to Magic Breakfast. They have been a godsend. We still had the problem that we couldn’t feed that many children in the hall but then we came up with the brainwave that we could serve the children in the playground too. Thus ‘Bagels in the Playground’ was born.

“Magic Breakfast provided us with unlimited bagels, unlimited porridge, cereal and 12 litres of fruit juice a week. Myself, my deputy and some of our year 6 children stand at the gate loaded with trays as the children come in. We also make sure there is a plate of bagels in each classroom for those children who are late. We don’t want anyone to miss out.”

The change in the children has been dramatic and the impact has been noticed by the whole community. Mornings in the playground now sees teams of older children going around with trays of buttered bagels or polystyrene cups of porridge topped with fruit. Younger children gratefully grab a bite to eat before the morning whistle goes.

“I am not sure what we go through, but I do know that we clear two boxes of bagels a morning and there are 48 bagels per box,” said Hayley.

While Manchester continues to prosper thanks to urban regeneration, many of the benefits have yet to spread to Gorton. Magic Breakfast is hoping to help offset that imbalance.

There are 468 children at the school, and all are now able to have breakfast at no cost. Not only that, but so are their toddler siblings, if they want.

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