By Natalia Ribbe, fundraiser, Magic Breakfast

If, like me, you work in hospitality, you are most likely contemplating your next meal. Whether it’s staff food or a restaurant meal you have been looking forward to trying, food is on our minds and at our disposal. We are also aware of where it comes from, how it’s grown and produced and how to prepare it. Being educated on food is at the core of what we do. But what if it’s not, what if quality of food and the importance of a well-balanced meal has never been a part of your education? What if missing a meal is a regular occurrence and you are consequently sluggish and agitated? And what if that meal you are missing out on is the most important meal of the day – breakfast? Sadly this is the reality for half a million children in the UK.  Hunger impairs a child’s ability to learn and can therefore affect their whole life path.

When I first visited a Magic Breakfast club some four years ago, I immediately compared it to what would happen if at work we weren’t served staff food – or as I like to call it, family meal. It’s a combination of sustenance and a time to socialise with the team before heading into ‘battle’.  This is exactly what it’s like for the 23,500 students who currently benefit from the breakfasts we serve. Their ‘family meal’ is there to energise them, teach them about healthy eating, help them to focus in their lessons, giving them fuel for learning. Each Magic Breakfast includes an enriched Bagel Nash bagel, low sugar and low sodium cereals from Tesco, Quaker porridge and unsweetened fruit juices supplied by Tropicana. The cost of this breakfast per child, per day is 22p, a miniscule amount of money when compared to the cost of a dinner out in London.

So how can the restaurant community help? We are currently working with a number of restaurants who support us in many different ways, including events, fundraisers, fun runs, cooking classes and by adding a voluntary donation onto the bill. Dishoom is one of our biggest supporters; they incorporate the cost of a breakfast into the costings of their breakfast menu. So customers who start the day at Dishoom are buying a breakfast for a child as well as themselves. Since coming on board in November 2015, they have supplied over 186,363 breakfasts. Foxlow restaurants add 22p to their bills and, were kind enough to host the Year Six students from Stoke Newington’s Princess May Primary School before their SATs exams for a special breakfast.

Food writer Rosie Birkett (pictured, at Mandeville school) has become an ambassador, teaching students about the history of the pineapple and its health benefits, and lastly, the executive chef from the Ace Hotel, Simon Gregory, not only participated in a Tough Mudder for us, raising over £2,000, but teaches pupils at one of our partner schools in south London cooking lessons once a week.

At the end of the day (or should that be start of the day!), making children aware of what they are putting in their bodies as well as why they need to put it in their bodies, is vital. Without a nutritious start to the day they are not set up for success. So the next time you’re clearing out your pockets and a lonely 22p appears, remember what a difference that can make for a child.