Hundreds of thousands of school children and families across the UK have benefitted from the provision of free school breakfast and holiday clubs, thanks to research from Northumbria University. Over the last decade Professor Greta Defeyter has conducted extensive research which has demonstrated the benefits that school breakfast clubs bring to children’s nutrition, cognition and social wellbeing.
Professor Defeyter has provided the government with evidence that children attending school breakfast clubs have enhanced educational performance and better social relationships with teachers and classmates. Teachers endorsed these findings, reporting gains in school attendance, punctuality, motivation and quality of life in many of the children involved.
Thanks to this work, hundreds of school breakfast clubs have been established across the UK, with a full training programme developed for the schools, volunteers and health visitors who run them. Yet while children were benefitting from breakfasts and school meals during term time, new research from Professor Defeyter’s Healthy Living Lab has shown that children from low income families often experience increased food insecurity during holiday periods, when these services are not available. Professor Defeyter is currently working with local authorities, schools and charitable organisations to demonstrate the benefits that free school holiday clubs can provide.