Well done to Blackpool Council for its decision to provide free breakfasts for all which, according to some interim research they’ve had carried out, is having a positive effect. However, it’s a concerning situation.
On the one hand, it seems to be a sign of the times — increasing poverty in our affluent society — but, there again, I have occasionally seen it and it was rarely to do with lack of money. After all, how expensive is it to give a child a bowl of cereal or a bit of toast and some juice? It seems to me to be more the product of ignorance and lack of organisation. I have certainly come across parents whose households were so disorganised that they didn’t get up early enough or, for example, hadn’t planned to have milk in the fridge the night before. And, despite all the publicity, I suspect there are adults who don’t get the need for proper nutrition to aid health, growth and concentration.
I taught in an area that wasn’t wealthy but wasn’t poor. Some parents would just give children some cash for breakfast and/or lunch and I would see these kids as I drove past on the way to school, staggering out of the local mini market with a giant bottle of cola and a large packet of chocolate biscuits. Cashless catering can help but only if the parents pay the school directly so the child is forced to have the healthier food available in the school cafeteria. So, I support moves like Blackpool’s but I do think there’s a limit to this kind of intervention.