In this week’s Friday Dish: turn your old and unwanted mobiles into breakfasts for hungry children in the UK – ITV Good Morning Britain’s Phones for Food campaign
How your Old Phone Could Feed a Hungry Child
As you might imagine, as a mum running a website about feeding children, I spend a lot of time thinking about what to cook for my kids. Either I’m planning new recipes or trying to find creative ways to encourage them to eat more vegetables.
A biggie for me is breakfast. We’ve all heard it – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For kids, eating breakfast means better concentration and more energy at school, and they’re less likely to eat unhealthily throughout the day which in turn will protect them from obesity. Having breakfast every morning is not in question in our house; rather, my choices boil down to what kind of cereal I give my children or whether I have time to make a smoothie or something hot.
This week I’ve been reminded that for a lot of mums and dads, choice doesn’t come into it. The question is not what their kids are going to eat for breakfast, but if their kids are going to eat at all.
Nearly 4 million children are growing up in severe income poverty in the UK; over a million are going to school without any breakfast. Teachers tell of children fainting in class due to hunger, or foraging in rubbish bins for food. In the most extreme of cases, some children won’t have eaten anything since the school meal they had for lunch the day before. According to the Child Poverty Action Group, for one in four children, a school meal is the only hot meal they have in a day.
Children who go to school hungry are up against a lot more than just the usual trials and tribulations of school. Studies show that children who don’t have breakfast lack concentration; their behaviour in class deteriorates, they frequently miss school or are late. All that adds up to a devastating impact on their academic achievement and consequently the rest of their lives.
It seems hard to believe this happens in one of the world’s richest nations. But whatever has brought us to this point, it’s clear that practical support and hands-on action is needed if children in poverty are able to do well at school.
Which is why the launch of ITV Good Morning Britain’s Phones for Food campaign is a brilliant idea. The concept is simple – drop off your old and unwanted mobile phones at Poundstretcher shops and participating schools throughout the month of October, and each donated phone will be recycled to fund two free school breakfasts through the charity Magic Breakfast.
I suspect a lot of families have old mobiles lurking in drawers or cupboards somewhere; we have at least two in our house, which until now I haven’t really known what to do with.
To get you motivated, all this week ITV Good Morning Britain is visiting school breakfast clubs and talking to parents and children whose lives have been changed by free school breakfasts. You can find all the information about the campaign on the ITV Good Morning Britain website, as well as video clips, breakfast recipes from celebrity chef Lisa Faulkner and a special Horrible Histories Historical Breakfasts tale from author Terry Deary.
Magic Breakfast already feeds over 22,000 children in more than 460 schools every morning through school breakfast clubs. The clubs offer healthy and nutritious breakfasts, including cereals, porridge, bagels and juice, to schools where more than 35% of its students are eligible for free school meals. But they have a growing waiting list and are desperately in need of support and funds.
There are some heart-wrenching case studies on Magic Breakfast’s website, but there are also some real success stories of children whose unruly behaviour calmed down once they started receiving free school breakfasts. At the heart of the matter, the charity says, a hungry child can’t concentrate.
As Jamie, aged 9 explains on Magic Breakfast’s website “You focus more on your belly hurting than you do on your learning if you haven’t had breakfast”.
How you can help:
Visit the ITV Good Morning Britain Phones for Food website to find out where and how to donate your old and unwanted phones.
Get your school involved as a collection point for donated phones. Download the Phones for Food School Pack with printable posters and leaflets.
If you don’t have a phone to donate, consider making a small donation to Magic Breakfast – one free school breakfast costs just 22p.
If you think your school could benefit by having a free breakfast club please visit the Magic Breakfast website for more information.