A few months ago I saw a news report on TV which really alarmed me. An English local authority had started to provide free breakfast for schoolchildren because so many were arriving for class having had nothing to eat, a fact which was affecting their behaviour and concentration.
It started me wondering if this was a nationwide problem, and sadly it seems it is. The problem appears to be down to a combination of factors, not just poverty and social issues, but also a lack of time. Many working parents are short of time and breakfast has become a casualty.
As a result, Dennis and I approached our local primary school with an idea: a ‘healthy breakfast’ event for the whole school, letting all 390 pupils taste a wide variety of foods to get them re-engaged with the idea of breakfast.
So last week we set up tables in the school hall buffet-style, with fresh fruit, juices, fromage frais, wholegrain cereal, cartons of milk, 50/50 bread, and porridge with lots of different toppings. We were especially keen for them to try new things, and porridge with honey was the surprise hit of the morning, so much so that I had mothers coming into the shop the following day asking what had we done to their children, and where was the porridge section!
We work closely with the Scottish government Healthy Living Programme, which gave tremendous support for this event, providing a Healthy Living-branded T-shirt or lunch box for each child. They also helped us to source two final-year nutrition students, who spent time with each class the previous week, discussing healthy choices, so that by the time the children came for breakfast the healthy message was really getting through.
Our suppliers were fantastic in giving us product, with many also helping out on the day, and the event created a real talking point in the community. Hopefully, it will have long-term benefits for the children with even a few of them starting to eat a better breakfast. And we as a local store have made contact with our next generation of customers.