Teachers keeping snacks and cereal bars in classrooms to feed hungry pupils

The SNP's Carol Monaghan warned children's ability to learn is being impacted by hunger as they "can't concentrate"

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Teachers are keeping cereal bars and snacks in their classrooms to help feed hungry pupils, MPs have heard.

SNP education spokeswoman and former teacher Carol Monaghan warned hunger impacts on the ability of children to learn, telling the Commons: “They can’t concentrate, they can’t think, and I know of teachers that are keeping cereal bars and snacks in their desk drawers to give to children to make sure they have something in their tummies.”

Ms Monaghan went on to stress the importance of extracurricular activities.

A view of a lunch pack
A view of a lunch pack

But she noted: “For families that are just about managing, they’re just about managing to pay bills and to feed their children – the things that will go are the little extras, are the sports clubs, are the activities, are the birthday parties, the days out, the holidays, in fact all the little things that make childhood so special, that enrich their experience and their ambitions.”

Pupils enjoying school dinners at a Primary School
Pupils enjoying school dinners at a Primary School

Ms Monaghan's comments come after the Government is being urged to inject £75 million into school breakfast provision after a report claimed the most vulnerable children are being failed.

Education charity Magic Breakfast said its research exposed a “patchwork” of provision, leading some children starting class too hungry to learn.

The impact is “significant”, with studies showing morning hunger leading to increased absence, lower levels of attainment and poor behaviour in class, said the report.

Staff and food costs were said to be the biggest barrier to school efforts to end hunger in the classroom.

Magic Breakfast called for an urgent £75 million funding boost for school breakfasts in England, and similar investments from the Scottish Government to level up education and reach those children and young people at risk of hunger.

Ruth Perry, head of school at Newall Green Primary School in Wythenshawe, Manchester, said: “There is a cost-of-living crisis affecting parents and if we didn’t have a Magic Breakfast in the morning, some children would be starting class hungry.

“Instead, pupils begin the day with a free, healthy breakfast and are better prepared to learn. My staff and I have seen the difference it can make.”

Wales is the only UK nation with centrally funded free breakfast provision, said the report.