Council chiefs have teamed up with Greggs to provide free breakfasts for children living in some of the city’s most deprived areas.
The bakery chain and FareShare Yorkshire, a charity that redistributes surplus food, will now supply breakfast clubs at nine schools and children’s centres across Chapeltown and Harehills.
Leeds City Council set up the partnership in the hope it will help improve pupils’ health and attainment in a city where a quarter of the children – around 30,000 – are living in poverty.
As well as benefiting around 5,000 youngsters, the provision of free food will mean a precious saving of thousands of pounds for each school and centre at a time of huge funding cuts.
Councillor Jane Dowson, lead member responsible for children and families, said: “Without breakfast, people can get irritable, restless, and tired, but unfortunately far too many children are going to school without having any breakfast. “
She added: “As well as helping children improve their diet this project will also help support families financially, especially those living in poverty.”
Youngsters will be provided with Kellogg’s cereals and bread from the nearest Greggs store, baked fresh, specifically for them. And long-term, there are plans for the three-month pilot to be rolled out across the city.
A council spokeswoman said the offer could also be extended to families and members of the wider community who are battling financial hardship.
She said unlike most schools, many of those in the local area already provided breakfast for free, so the project would help cut their costs.
According to a recent poll, rising numbers of children are arriving for school hungry, with almost two fifths of school staff (38 per cent) questioned saying it is now a daily occurrence.
Despite efforts to promote healthy eating, the UK still has high levels of health problems linked to poor diet, a new report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee warns.
And in a damning indictment of the city’s poverty levels, the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Feed a Family campaign revealed thousands of vulnerable Leeds residents have used their local foodbanks over the past year.