Giving back

Scaling a UK charity to feed thousands of children and families living with food insecurity

The COVID-19 pandemic deepened food insecurity for many UK families, many of whom had never needed to access food programs before. When UK-based charity Magic Breakfast needed to scale to meet rising demand, AlixPartners assessed options and mapped a plan for sustainable growth.
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AlixPartners Supports Magic Breakfast’s “Fuel for Learning” project

Magic Breakfast is a charity supported by the AlixPartners UK Foundation, and provides hot meals and grocery essentials to hungry children at school and at home throughout the year. The charity needed to scale quickly from serving 480 schools to 2,000, and an AlixPartners team, led by Managing Director Brian Kalms, Director Paul Fanning, and Senior Vice President Guy Kirby, provided essential IT planning and logistics support to enable Magic Breakfast’s ambitious plans. 

 

Brian and Guy share more information on the project in the Q&A below.  
“AlixPartners’ work on assisting with our ERP selection process was invaluable.
"What I thought was going to be straightforward research into ERP systems...was in fact a much more considered and detailed analysis. 
"I was thoroughly impressed with their work and am so thankful that they were able to help us in this way. Their report was beyond my expectations."
—Katrina Schmidt, Head of Finance, Magic Breakfast
magic breakfast table
Project overview with Brian Kalms and Guy Kirby
Q:
How did AlixPartners help to scale Magic Breakfast's operation?
A:
To meet rising demand and scale their operation, Magic Breakfast needed clarity  and transparency of stock levels by location, delivery tracking, and school cost contribution.

We assessed their existing IT systems architecture, and then costed and built an implementation roadmap outlining the capabilities that their systems would need to operate at scale.  Our team assessed options for an Enterprise Resource Planning solution, from procurement to implementation, that included functional fit, scalability, cost and time to implement, and cost and effort to support.
 
We were excited to use our skills to help a truly urgent and high impact situation. The Magic Breakfast team are very smart, friendly and welcoming. They had an interesting problem to solve, which was in our wheelhouse of expertise.
Q:
What is the mission of Magic Breakfast, and why is scaling their operation so important to the communities they serve?
A:

Magic Breakfast’s aim is “to end hunger as a barrier to education in UK schools through the provision of healthy breakfasts to children living with food poverty.” Due to COVID-19 the need is greater than ever before. Prior to the pandemic, Magic Breakfast was providing healthy breakfasts every school day. Now they are reaching 35% more pupils per school, offering take home packs, and doing home deliveries. Magic Breakfast has been adapting the way they work to ensure children at risk of hunger continue to receive breakfast whether at school or home, and through the school holidays. They now have an opportunity to continue this intensive level of help in 2021 by increasing the number of partner schools.

Q:
Why was taking the time to do the technology and systems assessment important, rather than jumping into a new approach?
A:

The assessment helped to ensure that everyone was on the same page, and that any new investments were clearly focused on enabling the charity to do the most good, in the shortest time possible. What we have built has given them more confidence that their technology investment will work for them, as well as clear implementation steps to ensure that it will have a transformative effect on the business as they increase their services in 2021.

Katrina Schmidt, Head of Finance for Magic Breakfast, said, "[Their analysis] of our current environment, our existing systems’ capabilities, a comprehensive review of ERP systems to suit our business needs, and recommendations...will help us in writing our business case to obtain the funding necessary to implement the ERP system."

Q:
What are the key takeaways or learnings from the project?
A:
Scalability is a “whole org” effort, and requires attention to systems, people and processes, particularly with perishable goods and a base of recipients with varied dietary needs.  We approached this project in the way we would approach any client project, working with the client team at Magic Breakfast to understand the choices they had, and the impact of various decisions.
 
Magic Breakfast is a professional organization, and needed access to specialist resources to get them over this important planning hump.
magic breakfast survey
Magic Breakfast Pupil Survey, designed to gauge the amount of hunger and malnutrition in a school, filled in by a pupil in 2015. (source: Magic Breakfast)

More about our work

AlixGives is our global corporate social responsibility program, and we support many worthy charities through the AlixPartners Foundation in the UK.