The number of struggling families sending their children to school without breakfast has increased over the last year, a new poll suggests.
A survey by Kelloggs reveals that 38% of primary and secondary school teachers are seeing children arriving at school hungry every day.
And 21% said the number of kids who arrive at school hungry has increased over the last year, while only 2% said the number had decreased.
Of the 21% who said the situation was worsening, around 69% blamed the global economic downturn, while a shocking 56% put the increase down to benefit cuts.
48% said parents were struggling to find full-time work that paid enough to give their children breakfast.
However, 38% of teachers said long working long hours for some parent meant breakfast was no longer seen as an important meal.
Almost a third of the 873 teachers surveyed by YouGov, on behalf of Kelloggs, said they has witnessed a child fall asleep a class, blaming tiredness or fatigue caused by hunger or thirst.
The survey reveals that hunger is having a detrimental effect on the ability for children to learn. 75% of teachers said hunger was making children lethargic, while 62% said it left them unable to learn.
Almost 48% said hungry kids were more disruptive in class and 83% said children couldn’t concentrate in class. Only 1% said skipping breakfast made children better behaved in school, says Kelloggs.
Jill Rutter, head of research and policy at the Family and Childcare Trust, said:
“In one of the world’s richest nations it is disgraceful that nearly 40 per cent of teachers report having children arriving hungry at school every day.
“Missing breakfast has huge impact on children’s ability to concentrate, learn and behave, which affects their results and long-term outcomes.
“Governments in all parts of the UK now recognise that breakfast is essential, but there are too many children who still miss out.
“We are concerned that a third of teachers have felt compelled to bring in food for children who haven’t had breakfast.
“The Family and Childcare Trust encourages schools to take up the opportunities offered by Kellogg’s and set up a breakfast club. Such a small investment can make a real difference for our children, today and in the future.”
Kelloggs said they are increasing efforts to provide breakfast clubs to low-income families in deprived areas.
Paul Wheeler, a Kellogg’s spokesperson, said:
“It’s a crying shame that so many children are going to school without having eaten a basic breakfast.
“When your stomach’s rumbling it’s hard to concentrate on anything else, so it’s no small wonder we’re hearing about children becoming badly behaved and unwilling to learn when they’re hungry.
“That’s why over the past 16 years, Kellogg’s has set up more than 1,000 new breakfast clubs in some of the country’s most deprived areas.”
According to Kelloggs, around 85% of schools now have a breakfast club, with 54% saying the primary reason for setting one up is because of kids going to school hungry.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 09 Jan 2015
North East teachers say they worry about the health of nearly two in five pupils when they return from school holidays because they are not given enough to eat.
Research by Kellogg’s also found that while holidays should be a fun time for families, term time breaks put an extra burden on the food budget of 27 per cent of parents in the region – with 17 per cent of parents struggling to feed their children three meals a day.
Of the 39 per cent of teachers who say there are pupils in their school that do not get enough to eat over the school holidays, more than a third of staff notice children returning to class with signs of weight loss and 43 per cent have seen a noticeable difference in their readiness to learn when they return for the new term.
And 30 per cent of North East teachers think offering holiday clubs at their school would ensure that children get fed properly, while 67 per cent believe they would give the added bonus of providing children with extra learning opportunities over the summer.
Adrian Curtis is director of the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network, which has two sites in Newcastle, one in Gateshead and one in Durham.
He said: “These are sad statistics when children spend 170 days out of school compared to 190 days in the classroom.
“School holidays are especially difficult for low income families whose children usually receive free school meals or support from breakfast clubs. Many are deeply concerned about being able to feed their children over the long break, and may resort to skipping meals to feed their children.”
He added: “Last year we saw foodbank usage in August increase by over a fifth compared to the same time in June, before the holidays began, and we expect this year’s figures to reflect a similar trend.
“On top of the existing work foodbanks do to help families struggling during the holidays, we have started to partner with companies, like Kellogg’s, to pilot running holiday breakfast clubs for families whose incomes are stretched to breaking point.”
The Kellogg’s Holiday Breakfast Club programme is held in schools, community centres and foodbanks across the UK to provide food and social activities. It is part of the company’s Help Give a Child a Breakfast initiative which aims to feed 80,000 families in need every day.
Katy Luke, manager of Blyth Valley Barnardos children’s centre, said: “We are aware that many families we work with are living in poverty and holidays are expensive for them, even when meeting basic costs not to mention treats which children hope to have on holiday.
“In our centre arrange a programme of activities that are free or low cost and we give families ideas of how to entertain youngster without having to break the bank. We also offer parents help during term time on how to cook healthy family meals on a tight budget.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 22 Aug 2014