A Kirkcaldy school has been crowned the best club in Scotland in the annual Kellogg’s Breakfast Club Awards, winning a £1,000 grant.
Balwearie High School was voted by a panel of judges as the best breakfast club in Scotland, after pipping three other schools to the post to win the top prize.
The school has received a cash prize of £1,000 to spend on its club, as well as a special party pack for the pupils to celebrate in the coming months.
The Kellogg’s panel of judges selected winners based on the inspiring individuals and activities that transform the mornings of children across the UK.
Organised by the school’s support services co-ordinator, Margaret Johnstone, the breakfast club has been running at Balwearie for the last two years and they are “delighted” to have received the award.
Margaret said: “We are delighted and incredibly proud to have won the Kellogg’s Breakfast Club Awards.
“The breakfast club has been an ongoing venture over the last couple of years, which we started off with tentatively, when I first started working at Balwearie about two years ago and it has grown from there.
“The whole idea behind it is that it’s a healthy start to the day and various findings have shown that young people can’t learn if they aren’t fed and that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
The Kellogg’s breakfast club judging panel was impressed by the school’s commitment to ensuring every child had access to breakfast to start their and day and their ability to adapt to regulations during the pandemic.
Margaret added: “Before Covid-19, the breakfast club, was a sit down meal and we’d offer them tea, toast, cereal, crumpets, and some fruit. They’d then take some fruit for break time as well, and usually a bottle of water. In the winter they’d possibly get a cup of tea or a hot chocolate.
“During Covid-19, we’ve set up a takeaway service. Staff put gloves on and pack takeaway bags the night before. Then the kids can come and pick up a takeaway breakfast the next morning.
“We also started ordering extra fruit and breakfast bars etc. because we know we have a lot of young people – the school has more than 1,600 pupils. And around one in four children in Fife at the minute are living in poverty, which is something we’re really aware of at Balwearie. There are around 27% of young people living in poverty and deprivation just here in Kirkcaldy at the moment, and as we have so many pupils, a large percentage of that will be reflected among them.”
During the first national lockdown, the breakfast club ensured they provided their most in need families with Morrisons food vouchers, which they delivered by post to ensure they could buy extra food.
Margaret continued: “Any funding we had allocated to the breakfast club would disappear very quickly, which is why we applied for the Kellogg’s Breakfast Club competition, because we really needed the funding. We also know that over the next two years, things aren’t going to get any easier for these families and young people. The £1,000 award is going to help us do a lot for the remainder of the year.
“Everybody knows where the breakfast club is and anyone is allowed to attend. Sometimes pupils come to us at break time or at lunch saying they don’t have anything to eat or they don’t want to use their lunch allocation, so we will make sure they get some, too.
“It’s basically just about making sure our kids are fed and we don’t need to know the circumstances. If someone is hungry, we will look at the reason later but we don’t discriminate, embarrass or judge in any way. Sometimes a pupil hasn’t had any dinner from the night before, so they want to feel comfortable coming to us. It is nice to know that for the last couple of years pupils have felt they can come to us.”
Zero food waste
Balwearie High School will spend its winnings on a new fridge freezer and food for the club. The prize money will also go towards their “Free Fruit Friday” initiative which allows children to take fruit home at the weekend for their family.
Margaret added: “We’ve got a venture coming up in the next couple of years that will help us grow our own fruit and vegetables, working with Greener Kirkcaldy, so that we can use our own food. We’ve got a zero food waste policy in the school as well, run by the home economics (HE) department, which is fabulous. If pupils have cooked in HE and they aren’t planning to take it home then the food goes into a fridge. There’s a food cam where the young people can see what’s in that fridge, go in and take it away and then that’s their meal for the night.
“A few young people take away enough for their family every night, too. We also started working with the canteen as we knew we were throwing away a lot of sandwiches at the end of the day, so that goes into a main area they can help themselves to as well.”
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