Founder of groundbreaking project awarded MBE

Carmel McConnell who was awarded an MBE in the New Year honours list

Carmel McConnell who was awarded an MBE in the New Year honours list - Credit: Archant

A leading light in the Hackney community and founder of a project which has provided free, healthy meals for 23,500 schoolchildren has been made an MBE.

Carmel McConnell MBE has been honoured by the Queen in the New Year honours list for her groundbreaking project Magic Breakfast.

Ms McConnell’s charity offers porridge, bagels, cereal and orange juice to pupils.

The project began while she was researching whether we lived in a richer and fairer society for her book Change Activist in the year 2000.

Five Hackney headteachers each told her that they had to bring in breakfast food to feed pupils who were too hungry to learn.

The goal for Magic Breakfast is to end breakfast hunger by 2020 with Ms McConnell wanting schools to start funding their own breakfast clubs,

Ms McConnell said the award was a “very genuine surprise”.

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She added: “It should have gone to the members of my team.

“Receiving this honour today means a huge amount to me. I hope it means we can have more conversations with people that want to help us.”

Over the past 15 years, she has been delivering breakfast to schoolchildren, to stop hunger being a barrier to education.

Ms McConnell said having free school lunches for pupils helped their concentration in the afternoons.

However, she said often the most important lessons were taught in the morning and that was why her organisation focused on providing breakfasts at a cost to the charity of 22p each.