While researching her first book Change Activist, in 2000, Carmel interviewed five headteachers in the London borough of Hackney who told her that many of their pupils arrived at school too hungry or malnourished to learn. Carmel started buying and delivering breakfast food to these schools, with remarkable results as children's concentration, behaviour, punctuality and educational attainment significantly improved. As demand for her help grew, Carmel took time out from her City technology consultancy, setting up Magic Breakfast in 2003.
Today, Magic Breakfast and the National School Breakfast Programme (DfE funded to March 2021) provides healthy breakfasts to around 400,000 children in England and Scotland during term time. Carmel was awarded an MBE for her services to school food in the New Years Honours 2016. In 2018 she received an Honorary Doctorate from the Open University for improving access to education. She became the 2018 Woman of the Year Campaigner Category at a ceremony in July 2018. Carmel still works full time on Magic Breakfast as well as media work, speaking, writing and faffing around on social media.