Providing children with high quality teaching is at the heart of a successful school. The efficiency of quality input from such teachers can be negated by many well documented external factors. Hunger can be a major barrier to learning and this can have a negative impact on the outcomes achieved by children.
Universal Free School meals for children in Reception and Key Stage 1 is a positive intervention in tackling the challenge of hunger, however, consider the fact that the traditional model of education front loads key learning during morning sessions when children are at their most productive and the impact of this is significantly reduced.
In some schools a high percentage of children attend school each day without breaking the fast of the previous day and some even without a drink. Many factors contribute to this; poverty and unconscious neglect being the two most common. An empty stomach affects concentration, energy levels, attentiveness and emotional wellbeing. Prolonged exposure to lack of food ultimately results in children working below age related expectations. Traditional models of interventions, designed to support children “catch up” and “close the gap”, are ineffective if the targeted children continue to present each day at school with empty stomachs.
Providing children with food each morning would be costly both financially and in terms of time when the timetable is already beyond capacity. Having identified hunger as a barrier to learning it has been essential to find a sustainable solution.
Fuel for School
The success of the work in one Leeds based school inspired a local awareness day where schools across Leeds were invited to take part in an event where food would be made available to provide a breakfast to any child in the city. Eventually 10,000 children were signed up from Leeds, Bradford, Sunderland and Doncaster and on Dec 8th 2015 children received food that would have otherwise been thrown away.
The legacy of this awareness day is the formal creation of Fuel for School.
Fuel for School has three key objectives:
- Remove hunger as a barrier to learning
- Reduce the quantity of perfectly edible food that goes to waste
- Educate communities to make responsible choices about food for a sustainable future