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Breakfast club

70c per child a day would feed Irish children most in need

That’s according to the findings of charity “Healthy Food for All”.

A NEW REPORT has found that 70 cent per child a day would fund breakfast in schools nationwide for children most in need.

The report found that children’s attendance, punctuality, energy levels and participation in class are better in schools that run breakfast clubs.

Charity “Healthy Food for All” carried out the research over an 18 month period in schools in North Dublin.

The group is calling on the Government to provide an extra 1.8 million euro a year to ensure every child attending a DEIS school can start the day with a healthy breakfast.

They called for this additional funding –amounting to a 5% increase in the current School Meals Programme of €37m – to be targeted at providing breakfast clubs in all DEIS schools as a critical first step.

In addition, they recommended that €500,000 should be allocated from the Department of Education’s infrastructural fund so that schools can furnish space for breakfast clubs.

The report, called Developing Breakfast Clubs, was launched by Tánaiste Joan Burton this morning at St. Eithne’s Girls National School, Edenmore.

Recent research shows that one in five children go to school or to bed hungry in Ireland and one in five primary school principals reported an increase in children coming to school hungry in 2013.

Pilot Programme

The Pilot Programme was established to support the development of four breakfast clubs in north Dublin primary schools between January 2013 and June 2014.

While the authors stress that the pilot is small, it is the first of its kind to look at the practicalities needed by schools to set up a breakfast club.

They also recommended the need for further research to explore the impact of breakfast clubs in different urban and rural settings.

The Pilot Programme, which was funded through the Kellogg’s Corporate Citizenship Fund, ran in four primary schools in North Dublin:

  • St Catherine’s Infant Schools, Cabra
  • Holy Trinity National School, Donaghmede
  • St. Eithne’s Girl’s National School, Edenmore, Raheny
  • Holywell Educate Together School, Swords.

Sinéad Keenan, Project Co-ordinator of Healthy Food for All and one of the report authors said,

Breakfast clubs are the smartest investment we can make in ensuring a healthier next generation. It’s the ultimate seed funding and it’s proven that it gives a guaranteed return.

“We are asking the Government to put the nutritional needs of vulnerable children first when they are deciding on how they are going to allocate Budget 2015”.

Read: Teachers see a worrying rise in Irish children coming to school hungry>

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