My husband loves podcasts as much as I love webinars. He was listening to one (The Nerdist) recently when Jeff Bridges was interviewed. You will probably know him as ‘The Dude’ (from my Hubby’s favourite film, The Big Lebowski), but you may not know about the work the actor is doing around hunger. He is is an activist against hunger and is currently supporting #nokidhungry, in the bid to get children in the USA eating - and learning. This campaign has three main benefits - supporting anti-poverty, supporting learning and improving attendance.
During my school visits this week, I found that Jeff Bridge (and breakfast) became relevant when discussing attendance (who'd have thought?!). The schools, as many do, have Breakfast Clubs but they are not well attended. The idea is of a Breakfast Club (if you do not have one) to invite students to come into school, before the bell, for free food. Sadly, both of theirs seem to not work. Many students look beyond the grub, and instead see the stigma of these teacher-led clubs aimed at the “poor” kids - eating in a dimly-lit canteen - or the clubs, ironically, mirror the detention-style drab of the John Hughes’ classic, The Breakfast Club (30 years old-ish today) - without the 1980’s smart-banter and cool outfits. I will be working on this wider outcome with the schools (including student focus groups, parent conversations and working with the team to create a successful incentive for families to get to school before the school bell), but wanted to look more at this - with you, dear reader.
Where to start? Successful school breakfast programmes can be seen around the globe. The incentives are clear, and they make both social and economic sense. This case study in Ohio, USA illustrate how they went around it. I am also pleased that the big businesses are also getting involved. Here in the UK, Kellogg's have been running their support for Breakfast Clubs, as 1 in 7 children in the UK don’t eat the most important meal of the day. There are even charities based solely on this, like Magic Breakfast, who have around 250 schools now as their partners. I even found a website that has all of this information and has recipes and free resources for Breakfast Clubs - called ShakeUpYourWakeUp. The difference with #NoKidHungry is that they say it is not enough just to put on a Breakfast Club - it needs to be successful. And rightly so.
As John Bender says, “The world is an imperfect place”. Sure we would love to believe that all children are able to eat a breakfast before they head into school. But we know this is not true - and we do not always need to look to the stars. (PS the teenager in me cannot believe I am quoting Judd Nelson in an edtech piece. Fist bump.)
How do you then make your club successful? Here are a few questions to ask yourself/your school leaders to help you wake up to what is needed:
What does your school do to create a personalised approach to your harder to reach children and families?
Is there a link with children from lower income homes and attendance in your area?
Do you have Breakfast Clubs - and what do the students think of them? Do you invite the parents/siblings too? Do the teachers come too?
What guests could come to yours? How do you make this a 'cool' place that students WANT to come to?
What can you learn from the organisations mentioned above?
We would love to hear your tips and thoughts! Now where is that cereal bowl...?
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This is where Jules and Nic will post articles, links to interesting sites and things that we think our TechnoTeachers will like.