Encouraging and supporting local families to ‘Eat a healthy breakfast’ and to focus on fuel before school.
Instead of sending Christmas cards last year, I decided I wanted to do something a bit different. I have been reading a book called ‘Give’ written by the CEO of the charity Mary’s Meals, which inspired me and made me start to think of ways I could support local families who struggle and worry about where their next meal will come from.
I am a great believer in the proverb: - ‘Charity begins at home’ – so I thought I’d start this small project in my home town of Bo’ness.
As a Public Health Dietitian, I am constantly reminded of the grim facts and statistics that a large number of children are sent to school hungry and this figure has increased significantly since the COVID lockdown in March 2020. As much as 22% of children, that’s almost a quarter or 1 in 4 children in Scotland live in households with a low income, exposing them to the risk of food insecurity and food poverty.
We know that eating a healthy breakfast has many health benefits. It not only provides our bodies with energy and vital nutrients to help kick start our day but eating breakfast has also been associated with improved brain function – helping children focus and concentrate better in class and perform better in school tests. It can also help us feels happier, more content and less stressed. Eating breakfast has many long term health benefits, it can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The Porridge Pot Pack – Breakfast Campaign
So instead of sending Christmas cards this year I decided to set up and deliver a Breakfast campaign, which I’ve called - The Porridge Pot Project. (I did consider calling it Pam’s Porridge Pot Project but thought that was too many P’s). This breakfast project will run at the start of 2021 and will raise awareness of the importance of children eating breakfast before school. The project will target 60 local families with young children, mainly primary school aged children and they will be given a Porridge Breakfast Pack to help and encourage them to kick start a healthy habit. The Porridge Pack will contain information and resources on why it’s important to start your day the healthy way. It will also contain porridge oats, milk, easy to follow, porridge picture recipes and other quick and easy breakfast ideas. It will have storybooks for the children including a copy of The Magic Porridge Pot book and a matching porridge pot activity workbook for the children to have fun completing. In order to make this project more sustainable in the long term, a cooking pot, microwaveable bowl and utensils to help families continue to cook and ongoing cooking advice, education and support will be available to the families – which will hopefully support and upskill individuals to start thinking about cooking low cost family meals from scratch.
There are a number of organisations and charities in Bo’ness who are all doing an amazing job, supplying emergency food parcels and supporting local individuals and families in crisis. So, I’ve teamed up with the staff and volunteers from The Bo’ness Food Pantry and Bo’ness Storehouse. They have agreed to help me deliver this project and roll it out to the most vulnerable families and individuals in Bo’ness and Blackness. This was a great link for me, as they currently work very closely with the families in need and are fully aware of the many challenges these families face around food.
Whilst delivering this project I worked closely with my colleagues from the Nutrition and Dietetic Health Improvement and Oral Health Team from NHS Forth Valley, Tesco (Bo’ness) and other national organisations such as @ParentClub_Scot and @BookBug_SBT who generously offered their support through kind donations of books, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other resources.
The project will be closely monitored and evaluated to measure it’s impact and outcomes. If it is successful, the project will be rolled out among other local authority areas and also through the Family Centres at the three local prisons – HMYOI Polmont, HMP Glenochil and HMP Cornton Vale.
I will continue to share any developments and progress of The Porridge Pot Project via Social Media – Check out Facebook and like and share @ThePorridgePotProject page.
#NoChildTooHungryToLearn #FuelForLearning #EndChildFoodPoverty