Magic Breakfast has a clear mission to ensure that no child is too hungry to learn by providing healthy breakfast food and expert support to identify and reach those pupils at risk of hunger.
A hungry child cannot concentrate so could miss out on half a day of lessons every school day if not given anything nutritious to eat first thing in the morning.
Multiple external and internal forces were impacting Magic Breakfast:
- Covid-19 caused significant changes in the external environment, causing wider public awareness of the issue of child food poverty. Subsequently, there was an increase in funding and willingness to support Magic Breakfast.
- Internally, Magic Breakfast had opted to no longer partner with the Department of Education on the National Schools Breakfast Programme, while progress of the School Breakfast Bill appeared to have stalled.
- Furthermore, Magic Breakfast was undergoing a change in leadership with a new CEO in waiting.
As such, the situation provided a unique opportunity for Magic Breakfast to reflect on its mission and set a strategy and operational plan to best achieve its objectives.
4 areas of focus
In conjunction with the Board and senior team, Plural set out four key areas of focus to frame the potential strategic pathways that Magic Breakfast could pursue:
- What should the emphasis be between solving child morning hunger for now and for good?
- Should Magic Breakfast focus on expanding its reach as far as possible with a standard offer, or try to increase the depth of its coverage to a smaller, more targeted section of the population?
- Is Magic Breakfast’s existing model for solving child morning hunger ‘for now’ the best model, or should it be flexed?
- How should Magic Breakfast define its approach to solving the problem ‘for good’, and what are the various pathways to achieving this systemic change?
Building a fact base
Plural built a fact-base of evidence to inform on each topic area. This included existing scientific literature, government reports, and case studies from other breakfast provision providers/charities.
In addition, Plural conducted targeted interviews with key internal and external stakeholders, including senior management, trustees, wider internal team, funders/corporate partners, other charities, and government bodies and schools.
The fact-base was then used to support a workshop session with the Magic Breakfast team to discuss, prioritise, and drive consensus on the strategic options and paths available for them. Subsequent meetings were used to refine and guide the development of the operational plan.
After the workshop, Plural was able to summarise and set out a new strategic plan that was agreed upon. This entailed:
- Ensuring a nutritious breakfast is provided to as many pupils at risk of hunger as possible
- Building a movement to solve child morning hunger and its causes
- Operating efficiently and responsibly with increased internal and external collaboration
The senior leadership team then tweaked the plan and developed a board report which made five recommendations on its mission and future strategy, all of which were approved by the trustees.