Thursday 26 April 2018

Hunger in the classroom means children in Ireland are missing out on 6 weeks if their education per year

Teacher opinion poll reveals worrying consequences of children arriving at school hungry.

As a result, Kellogg’s have announced Europe’s largest ever food donation by a single manufacturer to help tackle food poverty

Almost 1 in 5 (19%) teachers have seen an increase in children arriving at school hungry1 – a problem so severe that over 39% of teachers have taken food into school for a specific child who is regularly hungry according to the ‘Lost Education’ study, commissioned by Kellogg2, which polled over 500 primary and secondary school teachers in Ireland.

“Hunger in the classroom is a growing problem that brings with it negative, long-term implications,” according to Jim McNeill, Managing Director, Kellogg’s Ireland, “It is worrying that in this day and age there are children arriving at school hungry every day, our research demonstrates that it is an ongoing problem which will have long term implications for the current generation.”

1 in 5 (19%) teachers said they see children arrive hungry for lessons every day, which according to the teachers can result in poor concentration and an increased demand on their time. 30% of teachers have even seen children fall asleep in the classroom due a lack of food, and 76% believe children who miss breakfast are less likely to perform as well in exams.

Teachers say that children who come to school hungry are losing an average of 57 minutes of learning time each day, with the net result being 6 weeks of learning time lost over the course of an academic year.

According to Kellogg’s Ambassador Catherine Fulvio, “Every child deserves to start their day with a nutritious breakfast, but the reality is that many children across the country are missing out in the morning. Hunger in the classroom is a problem that will impact the prospects of the current generation if we don’t do something about it now.”

Half of respondents (50%) believe that children who arrive at school hungry are more likely to have issues socialising, while 71% think they are more likely to experience behavioural problems.

Kellogg’s is today announcing a new partnership with Barnardos in Ireland. Barnardos provide family support and education-focused services to children and families living in disadvantaged communities. This partnership will help children’s charity to provide breakfast to children attending their services and also to school children who attend Barnardos Breakfast Clubs. Kellogg’s will also be supporting Barnardos in setting up a new breakfast club.

Ruth Guy, Director of Fundraising and Marketing, Barnardos, said: “We provide breakfast to children attending Barnardos services and in our Breakfast Clubs in schools to support children’s attendance and participation in education. By ensuring children have a nutritious breakfast each morning, we are helping them to concentrate throughout the day, enabling them to learn and achieve their potential in life. We are delighted to receive Kellogg’s generous support and would like to thank the team in Kellogg’s and their customers for their commitment to supporting Barnardos and changing children’s lives.”

The research findings were announced to coincide with Kellogg’s largest ever food donation across Europe which will help provide breakfast to millions of children and families who would otherwise go without. As part of its Breakfast for Better Days initiative, Kellogg aims to donate 1 billion servings of cereal and snacks worldwide by the end of 2016. This year Kellogg is running a “Buy a Box – Give a Bowl” promotion which means that every time a consumer buys a special pack of Kellogg cereal, Kellogg’s will donate one 30g serving of Kellogg’s Cornflakes or Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (excluding milk) to someone who might otherwise go without. The food will be distributed through their food banks and charity partners, Crosscare and Barnardos. Kellogg expects to donate up to 57 million servings of cereal across Europe in this way by the end of 2016. These donations will be in addition to the regular donations of food which Kellogg’s makes to food banks in a dozen European countries.

Jim McNeill, Managing Director, Kellogg’s Ireland, said: “Kellogg commissioned the research to uncover the impact of hunger on children in the classroom. The findings show just how vital Breakfast Clubs and Food Banks now are. Working with our partners Barnardos and the Crosscare Foodbank, we are determined to reach even more children and families.

Over the last 3 years Kellogg’s has helped provide 4 million breakfasts for children in school and community breakfast clubs all over the UK and Ireland. As well as providing cash donations and cereal vouchers, Kellogg’s has also helped provide equipment and training.

The vital role of Breakfast Clubs, Food Banks and local charities in alleviating food poverty has also come under the spotlight. 57% of teachers believe families in their community would go hungry without donations from their local Food Bank, and 91% say that a Breakfast Club in their school has had a positive impact on their ability to teach their class. Yet three quarters (77%) of teachers believe some of the families are not aware of this type of support on their doorstep.

Michael McDonagh, Senior Manager for Food Services with the Crosscare food bank said: “Across the Island of Ireland, over a quarter of children under 18 are nowliving below the poverty line. We work with state agencies and registered charities that identify individuals or families and refer them to the food bank. We see families visit us on a weekly basis, and the demand is getting bigger. Our idea of what food poverty is has completely changed, we meet families in which both the husband and wife are working but they have to pay a mortgage and keep their car on the road and it’s the family’s food that suffers.”


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1. Teachers were asked if they’ve seen an increase in the number of children who arrive at school hungry over the past year.

2. European research carried out by Opinion Matters. Total sample size was 500. Fieldwork was undertaken in July 2014.

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