The Canadian-inspired plan gives Scottish students the opportunity to pick up a complimentary breakfast in a mobile cart before class, and after a successful pilot it expands to other UK schools.
The’grab-n-go’ approach is based on a similar model commonly used in the United States that aims to encourage and help children eat nutritious foods more easily before class.
During the pilot period, all students at the two preparatory and secondary schools in East Renfrewshire were provided with free cereal, toast, and fruit before class.
Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University looked at nearly 500 students and 39 teachers on Barrhead’s early exams and found that many children skipped breakfast completely before school.
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This was most common in secondary students, with 63% not eating breakfast every day, compared to just 7% of elementary school students.
Secondary school girls were more prone to skipping breakfast than boys, and 34% never eaten before school.
Two-thirds of secondary school teachers who surveyed before the trial reported that students who missed their meals in the morning were less focused, lacked energy, and were less involved in learning. Employees were able to remember specific examples of this.
Students can eat from the breakfast cart before class starts or during the first 30 minutes.
Professor John McKendrick, co-director of the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “Most teachers preferred schools that serve breakfast.
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“Teachers who participated in the survey were able to come up with concrete examples of students who were less involved in learning because they did not eat breakfast.
“We also observed and talked about the students. It is clear that the breakfast cart provided a service that was used and welcoming by both staff and students.
“In five weeks, 827 children collected food from the cart. The vast majority of students picked up 75% of their toast and a quarter picked at least one piece of fruit.”
Tarbolton Primary in Ayrshire was one of the first schools to receive a permanent cart after exams and is currently funded by 17 schools.
The pilot was the result of a partnership between the Greggs Foundation, Glasgow Caledonian University, East Renfrewshire Council, catering firm E&R Moffat and Brakes, and Lindsay Graham of the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Commission.
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Graham said: “In the current epidemic times, this model can help provide breakfast, lunch and dinner or other food service opportunities such as after-school clubs at the end of school classes.
In November of last year, Deputy Secretary John Swinney promised that SNP would provide free breakfast and lunch to all Scottish school students, proclaiming that “we too hunger does not have holidays.
The First Deputy Minister said the program will go into effect in August 2022, making Scotland the first country in the UK to offer universal free primary school meals.
If the SNP is re-elected in May, all elementary school students can get free breakfast and lunch throughout the year.
Lynne Hindmarch, Breakfast Club Manager at the Greggs Foundation, said: “We were delighted with the positive results of the cart. They work well with the minimal staff and supervision required for a higher engagement rate.
“The Greggs Foundation is excited to be able to purchase multiple carts for use in our current breakfast club schools. We look forward to releasing more of them in the long run.”
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