A cross-party group of politicians has urged the Government to extend school breakfast provision to ensure that no child is too hungry to learn.
The call comes as the School Breakfast Bill, tabled by Catholic MP Emma Lewell-Buck, has been postponed due to the reduced parliamentary calendar as a result of Covid-19. If successful, it would have created a commitment to a comprehensive programme of school breakfast clubs across the country, ensuring every child could start the day with a healthy breakfast.
Ms Lewell-Buck, Labour MP for South Shields, has co-ordinated a cross party letter with Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow, gathering almost 100 signatures across both Houses in support of the Bill.
In the letter, addressed to the Minister for Children and Families Vicky Ford, the politicians call for her to ‘scale up funding for school breakfasts to all disadvantaged schools in England and to provide this funding long term, in line with the proposal set out by the School Breakfast Bill’.
They point out that school breakfasts tackle classroom hunger and improve children’s energy, behaviour and concentration, leading to improved academic attainment, which enables children to leave school ready to secure highly paid work, contributing to economic growth.
The politicians praise the Government’s National School Breakfast Programme for providing over 280,000 disadvantaged children with breakfasts but raise concern that it only reaches seven per cent of schools.
They suggest the money for the programme be raised through the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which raises approximately £340m each year. More than £700m raised from the Levy since 2018 is unaccounted for.