Had a fabulous time with the people from Kelloggs on Tuesday – not least because they treated us to the most marvellous spa treatments at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hyde Park Corner, but I won’t go on about how amazing my facial was lest you go green and explode with envy, I know I would.
The Kelloggs folk had something serious to talk to us about, their new Give a Child Breakfast campaign. For some reason, the clever beans thought we would be more receptive once we’d been massaged into a state of bliss. Well, in fact they had me at the word ‘breakfast’. Though I am lucky enough to have the time to make sure we have breakfast together, my girls often say that their friends don’t eat a thing until lunchtime. Then they casually mention that the same friends are falling asleep in lessons, are always tetchy, or are getting bad marks in their homework. I gently point out to the girls that there is a link. And they are very surprised. But really, kids, even in their teens, shouldn’t go that long with no food inside them. We wouldn’t run our cars on empty – though I’m tempted to try now petrol is so expensive – so we can’t really expect our bodies to perform without fuel. The trouble is that children don’t know that. One in four teenage girls go without breakfast. 14 per cent of them are on a diet already (OMG!!). And, in total, 325,000 children in the UK do not eat or drink until lunchtime.
Unfortunately children can’t make sensible decisions for themselves about food. So if you set off for work in the morning expecting your child to sit down to a worthy bowl of cereal or toast, just know that, in fact, they are in the queue for sticky buns or other rubbish at Greggs, at best or, more likely, just starving themselves until lunchtime.
Kelloggs is one of those lovely companies set up in the nineteenth century, by chaps (it was always chaps in those days) with social consciences. Although it’s an American firm, it has a huge amount in common with British businesses like Bourneville and Quaker. Strict teetotallers and fervent church goers, these paternalistic bosses wanted to get the best out of their employees, but also wanted the best for them. In the case of Kelloggs, the brothers who set up the company believed strongly that there was link between wholesome food and wholesome lives.
Kelloggs is a massive global company and, obviously, they make shedloads of money. They could sit back, pump sugar and salt, colouring and all the other rubbish that we know kids like, into their products, and watch the cash flow in. Yet they still have a desire to spread the word about good nutrition and the importance of a healthy start to the day. Obviously they are not saintly – some of their cereals feature more chocolate and sugar than I am comfortable with – but they are trying to reduce salt and sugar and bump up levels of fibre.
One of the great things about Kelloggs is the breakfast clubs they have set up in schools all over Britain. There is one in my children’s junior school, and it’s very popular. A lot of people find that children who turn their noses up at breakfast at home, will tuck in with their friends. Plus it’s free childcare, and you can’t argue with that! These clubs have been going since 1998. Kelloggs has invested 1.5m in them, and provides 1.5m breakfasts a year.
If you have to dash off in the mornings and don’t have time to make sure your reluctant teenager/picky 6 year old actually gets something down them, then pack them off to a breakfast club instead. If your school doesn’t have one, you could even start a breakfast club up - it’s a one-form application.
You might think that Kelloggs is using the breakfast clubs to ram its own products down children’s throats. Not so. The money they provide goes to buy equipment, not food. Food choice is up to the school.
But now, in the face of government budget cuts and the possible closure of many breakfast clubs, Kelloggs is introducing a new campaign that is directly linked to its own products. Buy a Kelloggs pack with the Give a Child A Breakfast logo, and you’ll be helping to raise money to provide one million breakfasts for British school children – in addition to the 1.5m breakfasts Kelloggs already funds every year. I’ll be getting the new packs, because every child deserves a good start to their day.
Incidentally, I haven’t been paid for this post, though I did have that gorgeous facial and Kelloggs gave us some lovely bowls to eat our Frosties out of. Did you know, by the way, that a bowl of Frosties and a bowl of Cornflakes have exactly the same calorie count? Yes, really! Food for thought