GettyImages - 140873815

Source: Getty Images 

The session was designed to highlight the impacts of morning hunger on children’s learning

Arla has highlighted the severity of childhood hunger to politicians with an interactive meeting.

Arla invited MPs and peers to the ‘No Breakfast, Breakfast Meeting’ this week.

The session was part of an ongoing partnership with children’s charity Magic Breakfast, which works to ensure no child in the UK is hungry to learn, and was designed to highlight the impacts of morning hunger on children’s learning. 

Half the guests were told to eat breakfast beforehand and half were told not to. They were then challenged with cognitive tasks to mimic the experience of children at school.

Those deprived of breakfast were up to 80% more likely to fail the tasks, designed by behavioural science expert Dr Simon Moore.

“When solely considering adult behaviour, the effects that a continued lack of breakfast has can severely impact cognitive, social and physical functioning,” said Moore.

“However, when shifting this focus to a much younger development group, such as children, the effects also have huge impacts on growth, social interaction and have been shown to provide a barrier to positive and effective learning experiences.”

Those who hadn’t eaten since the night before complained they found it ‘difficult to concentrate’, and hard to ‘fully engage with others attending’ because they were simply ‘too hungry’ or ‘distracted by their rumbling stomach’.

After the task, 100% of those attending the session agreed to support a new commitment to “Back Breakfast” .

“No child should ever have to start the day hungry and with the number of children facing morning hunger only set to increase with the ongoing rise in living costs, it is essential urgent action is taken,” said Rachel Campbell, Arla brand and sustainability director.

“That’s why we’ve joined forces with those in power, to raise awareness of the issue and to back the provision of free breakfast for children who need it the most, so every child can start each day with the essential nutrients needed to grow and fuel learning.”

The session, sponsored by MP David Mundell, was the next stage in Arla and Magic Breakfast’s commitment to #BackingBreakfast by bringing together politicians to help them understand the issue and support free school breakfasts for children in England.

“A free school breakfast is a cost-effective investment in our children’s learning with immediate and long-term benefits to society – that’s why we are calling on the government to act and ensure free school breakfasts are equally offered to all children who need it,” said Lindsey Macdonald, CEO at Magic Breakfast.

Arla has worked with Magic Breakfast since 2020, donating enough Cravendale milk to fill more than ten million cereal bowls in that time.  

The meeting looked to shed light on the four million children in the UK who are living in food insecurity, said Arla, which stressed “no child should have to start the day hungry”.