Parents 'failing to give children breakfast'

Breakfast Four in five teachers say they have seen pupils arriving without breakfast

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Parents without the "time or inclination" to make breakfast for their children are blamed by teachers for more pupils going to school hungry.

A survey from Kellogg's found that four out of five teachers in England have seen examples of pupils starting school without having eaten any breakfast.

"Parental apathy" was identified as the biggest single cause - followed by a shortage of money.

Almost a third of teachers have brought in their own food to feed pupils.

According to the survey, about one in six primary teachers are spending £24.99 per month of their own money on food for their pupils.

Last month, teachers at a primary school in Bristol took over the funding of breakfasts for 130 pupils after a charity providing the meals went bust.

Breakfast club

Kellogg's is best known for its cereal brands - but a spokeswoman emphasised that this was not about promoting its own goods, but was a response to its own grassroots work in schools.

The firm's charitable trust has been funding school breakfast clubs, where pupils can get subsidised meals, since 1998.

At present it is supporting more than 500 breakfast clubs across England - but says it is receiving a rising number of requests from other schools worried that pressure on budgets will force the closure of their breakfast clubs.

Start Quote

Some children at our school don't have their first meal of the day until lunchtime”

End Quote Gill Harding Primrose Hill Community Primary School, Manchester

A report from Kellogg's, accompanying the survey of 500 teachers' experiences, says that without breakfast clubs many more pupils would miss out on a meal in the morning.

More than half of teachers believed that the problem of children arriving hungry at school was getting worse.

They believed that a lack of money is a major problem for some families - but a bigger problem was the failure or inability of parents to provide a breakfast for their children.

"This means that, in many families, parents are leaving children to fend for themselves in the morning. This is because some parents simply don't have the time or inclination to prepare breakfast, let alone supervise their children or encourage them to eat it," says the report.

This problem is worse among primary pupils, says the Kellogg's report, because they find it harder than secondary pupils to "fend for themselves".

The lack of food before school - or only snacking on unhealthy food - means that pupils arrive unable to concentrate and more likely to behave badly, say teachers in the survey.

Gill Harding, head teacher at Primrose Hill Community Primary School, Manchester, says in the report: "Some children at our school don't have their first meal of the day until lunchtime.

"Often this is because their parents aren't aware of what a healthy breakfast is, which is why many children - and their parents - turn up at school eating a large chocolate bar with a can of fizzy pop. In other homes, parents simply don't get up early enough to prepare it."

Karin Woodley, head of the ContinYou education charity, said: "Many families are really struggling financially and, in extreme cases, this means that there simply isn't enough food to go round. Breakfast clubs can provide a lifeline for these families so we're extremely concerned to hear that many are being forced to close."

The issue of poor diet among school children prompted a campaign by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver - and saw the introduction of strict nutritional guidelines.

But Mr Oliver has attacked the decision to allow academies not to comply with these guidelines.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said it was "worrying" to hear of any child going hungry, insisting that the government had protected the schools budget and introduced the pupil premium to support the most disadvantaged pupils.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Judging by the amount of adults I know who skip breakfast, I'm not surprised that parents aren't bothering to make sure their children have breakfast before going to school. People generally don't seem to view breakfast as an important meal when it actually is. Start leading by example.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    I seriously doubt that many parents are doing it to save the extremely small amount of money it would save. How much does toast cost to make for your kids?

    I expect it's the same reason every adult fails to do things - disorganization, lack of emotional coping skills, lack of parenting ability, and lack of self discipline. At least this article isn't blaming the teachers for a change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    I am full time working single parent and leave my house at 7:30. I tried breakfast around 7am but its too early they dont want to eat at that time. We cant judge individual households for why some kids are provided with breakfast or not. its my priority that my children dont go hungry. You cant always blame the parents!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    B4 the HR brigade come yelling down the street, I'd like to say - some people weren't ready when they had kids; some people shouldn't get support for pumping babies.
    It's not something you will "get better" at. The society/community has got to have the power to say to some1 that you are not financially/mentally/physically ready to have kids.
    It's someone elses' life they are messing with!

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    So why aren't they reporting the parents to the correct authorities for child neglect.
    And what does Kelloggs' have to say about school lunch's? Oh forgot they do breakfast cereals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    Wisolme. Please look at the French scientific research into rats that have been fed on GMO. Tobacco companies used to say there was no link to cancer either... Feel free to eat GMO if you like...

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    A way must be found to stop so many people having children they are unable or unwilling to look after.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    we have a section of young women in this country who does not even know who the father of her child is, if you're that stupid what chance do these children have?

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    "Parental apathy"....... ye gods, what a damning indictment of todays parents. *shakes head sadly*

    I bought a huge bag of porridge oats today for 90p; enough to make breakfast for two or three children for at least a fortnight. Make it in the microwave in 3 minutes with half-and-half water and milk, add a spoonful of raisins .... job done. Too difficult for them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    If mothers know that if they don't feed their children the State will then they have an incentive not to feed them and use the money for something else.

    What sad times we live in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    @175.Gordon Stokey
    "Breakfast as a meal is overrated. In contrast, spending an hour with your children before they go to school is priceless."

    Can you not spend time with your child while they eat breakfast? Why are they doing their sums before school not after? Seems like a recipe to have them tired before class to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    GMO food is OK. It will help feed the real starving kids if the seed companies sell crops that will produce fertile seed. Worrying about western countries and the kids missing one meal a day is ludicrous compared with the problems of feeding the third world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    It's embarrassing that so many so-called parents know what parenting is!

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    As food is fuel, then breakfast is the most important meal of the day. An eminent nutritionist once said the best way to eat was to breakfast like a king, lunch like a lord, and dine like a pauper. It has been noted in France there is a spike in accidents between 11-12 noon, due to the fact that blood sugar, and concentration, levels fall some hours after a breakfast of coffee and croissant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.


    I understand now - I was only impyling that IF the vouchers were accepted as payment for fags then the supermarket would also be at fault.

    This isn't the case, thanks for explaining though.

    Parent with priorities eh ? Who'd have 'em ? ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Kids need to eat and not go hungry, but they also need to be fed on food that has nutrients/protein etc. and not the GMO rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    mind you, it must be really difficult when your are obese, to actually have the energy to waddle to the kitchen to prepare a meal for your child, maybe that is a big factor of this whole issue, solution gastric band

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    // Little_Old_Me
    The vast majority of crap parents are crap because they in turn had crap parents - the bulk of human beings learn their parenting skills from their own parents..........we need to reverse the Sure Start funding cuts //

    With you regarding the crap parents, but please, let's stop the Labour habit of lobbing dosh at all problems.

    I'd cap benefits to 3 kids per mother at most.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    See 1st post 165. The school response to our concern was that we were welcome to collect our son at lunchtime, give him his lunch and then return him to the school, as they did not supervise children bringing a packed lunch to school (they all sat together regardless). Many parents were complaining about the same issue repeatedly. Our experience is schools don't care, Kellogs do though???!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Judging by the size of a lot of kids I see, they make it up at supper time though.


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