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Teachers bring sandwiches to school to feed hungry children as survey raises concerns over breakfast

09:00 15 January 2016

Stock image.

Stock image.

One in four teachers bring food to school to feed hungry children in the region.

Almost eight in 10 teachers (77%) also see children start the school day hungry at least once a week in the East of England, the YouGov poll found.

Last night, teachers in Suffolk warned children are “lethargic and tired” in the classroom and urged more schools to start breakfast clubs.

One teacher told the EADT she feels forced into bringing in sandwiches and fruit to feed her hungry children.

In the survey, three-quarters of teachers (74%) blamed families’ struggling finances for the current situation. Another 38% said parents were “too busy” to prepare a wholesome breakfast for their children.

Jeremy Pentreath, co-headteacher of The Oaks Primary School in Aster Road, Ipswich, described the findings as “concerning”.

He said: “Am I surprised? No, not really. We live in challenging times. Perhaps it is a sad reflection of where we are as a society that children aren’t particularly well looked after.

“(Parents being too busy to make breakfast) could be one reason. People are very busy in the morning and some children are left to fend for themselves, I am sure.

“As a headteacher, I feel I not only have a responsibility to educate children to the best possible standards, but also to make sure they are safe and their physical needs are met while at school.

“If we can help them get a good head start on that, by making sure they are well fed and looked after, I will do anything I can to make sure they have got the best possible chance.”

The academy, attended by 400 pupils, starts the breakfast club at 7.45am. Around 50 youngsters from families receiving qualifying benefits attend daily. Fruit, toast and cereal are offered, as well as bacon sandwiches on Fridays.

Mr Pentreath said it was launched partially to “combat” poor attendance and the number of students coming to school hungry.

When asked if more schools should offer the same provision, he added: “It can only help the children. Schools will have their reasons for running them or not, but for us, it works.”

A total of 11,791 pupils are eligible for free school meals in Suffolk. Last September, prime minister David Cameron committed his support to the scheme.

Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the NUT, said “Teachers will always do as much as they are able to ensure all pupils achieve their best at all times. This has now resulted in many teachers and support staff bringing in food to assist pupils learning.

“It is not a teacher’s responsibility to feed pupils or ensure they have had proper regular meals however because they care so much about pupils welfare and learning they do it.”

A government spokesman said: “Our reforms are improving the lives of some of the poorest families, and all infant pupils can now get free school meals, meaning 1.3million more children get a nutritious free meal at lunchtime, saving families hundreds of pounds.

“We are spending £1.1million to provide breakfast clubs in schools to help children start the day with a nutritious meal.”

One primary school teacher in Ipswich, who wished to remain anonymous, said she has been forced into bringing food to school to feed hungry children on “several occasions”.

She said: “Children come in and tell my they’re hungry in the morning, so I give them extra pieces of fruit or a sandwich or something like that.

“You can tell when the child is hungry because they are trying to get extra food. They go in to their pack lunches to try and find more food. It leaves them feeling very lethargic and tired in the classroom and you can’t get anything out of them. It has massive effects.

“But since the government introduced the free school meals scheme, I have been giving food to children less frequently, which is a good sign.”

She added: “I think more schools should have breakfast clubs. In Ipswich and Suffolk, I would say less than 40% of primary schools have them, due to staffing mainly.

“Some schools don’t have staff willing to do it, but others have teaching assistants who are paid to come in at 7.30am.

“But the job now is not just teaching. Some say it is teaching with social care; it is an expanded role where you are caring for children in the classroom, which takes up more of your time. It is no longer a 9am to 3pm job.”

23 comments

  • If they are hungry it is more down to bad parenting. Many parents now seem to want to pass on responsibility for caring for their children to others I do not buy the poverty excuse. It costs very little to give a child a breakfast. Strangely many of the parents that claim to not be able to feed their children have no problem providing them with the latest smart phone. Perhaps that where the problem lies

    Report this comment

    Bill Jackson

    Saturday, January 16, 2016

  • DB552, why do you try and take things to extremes talking about disability being the reason, and as for being a single parent, is that a reason not to ensure your child gets a good nights sleep, clean clothes and breakfast in the morning. You are living on another planet, the comments below confirm what people really know. Parents dont spend enough time with their children, think the school should teach them manners and everything else, and the latest Ipod or xbox is treated as a babysitter. Get out of your bubble and have a proper look round

    Report this comment

    Jimhow

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • Brilliant, stoneman. Another dinosaur. Have you stopped to think that perhaps it could be due to an illness or disability, years after the children are born? Perhaps a violent or abusive relationship that the lone parent has escaped? Maybe a bereavement due to active service? Have you stopped to think what the benefit system does these days? No, unlikely. Jenkins mentions a 'generous benefits system'. Poor deluded daily mail reader I think. And for the dear out of touch soul (hereandthere of course) that mentions family allowance, and yet never had benefits! What on earth do they think family allowance was? Once again, NFN.

    Report this comment

    Davidbrian552

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • Putting it bluntly if you can't feed them don't breed them

    Report this comment

    stoneman

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • There really are some very unpleasant people making comments on this article. And I bet they call themselves 'christians'

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • Well done Jenkins, hereandthere and others. You have managed, without much effort, to bring Norfolk residents to a new low. Congratulations. NFN?

    Report this comment

    Davidbrian552

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • A lot of us grew up in post war britain when food and money was in short supply I came from a large family we were never allowed out of the house with a breakfast and we had a hot meal in the evening .Parents in them days prioritized food on the table or luxurious sadly some of today's parents don't have them values

    Report this comment

    stoneman

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • Lizzie Rees You are living on another planet. Stories like this make my blood boil. These teachers ought to get the parents in and give them lessons on how to manage their homes. Something they were obviously not taught to do by their parents. Food in the supermarket has never been so cheap. . Its the rubbish food that is expensive. These parents don`t worry about having the latest all singing and dancing phone, tv package etc etc but when it comes to putting cooking a meal from scratch they are totally lost. There are certain responsibilities that comes with having children. Feeding them is one of them. I know of children starting school who are still in their nappies and of one who still uses the potty. Where has it all gone so wrong. We are going backwards instead of forwards. I am getting a bit long in the tooth now but when I was young there were four of us. No benefits, only the family allowance and only one wage coming in. But we never went hungry because my mother,like all other mothers, knew how to cook and feed the family on very little. People ought to stop making excuses and shame these so called parents into getting their act together. But then they probably won`t listen as they are on their phones. Like they are when they are taking their kids to school.

    Report this comment

    Hereandthere

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • @Lizzie Rees .... You should take off your rose tinted spectacles! I was in Tesco at Aylsham in the summer and a small girl of about 6 was going along with her Mother who was busy on her phone. The child kept tugging the mother to ask if she could have a bag of apples. The mother completely ignored her for several minutes, finished her phonecall and then told the child she wouldn't be buying her any apples. We met again at the checkout where the Mother had just bought a big bag of Monster Munch crisps for the child.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • 2016 - Great Britain - Supposedly one of the richest countries in the developed world - what is going on here ? Probably a number of reasons as stated, none of which stack up, all of which are inexcusable . Kids don't ask to be born, and no child should go hungry for whatever reason. Despite all the hype we see in the media there are huge numbers of people working for the minimum wage, in most cases many would be better off on benefits. This should not be.. The situation has not really improved since the Robber Barons exploited the majority of the citizens of this country in the middle ages. Breakfast clubs should be set up in every school as a matter of priority, also all children should be taught how to prepare proper food and cook as part of their education and life skills.

    Report this comment

    Grey Fox

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • p.s. too busy? Then don't have a family!

    Report this comment

    Nicki

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • I worked very briefly in a primary school - children turned up hungry, dirty and tired...parents were waltzing around in designer gear, driving new cars and with the latest mobile phones..infuriating! I agree with a lot of the comments on here.

    Report this comment

    Nicki

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • Oh Lizzie, get real, children turn up for school hungry and lethargic due to lack of sleep, not going to bed early enough and you can buy cereals so cheap that a bowl of that each morning is possible for anyone no matter how poor they claim to be. The article says parents are busy in the morning, yes hello welcome to the world of bringing up a child, its their responsibility and they are lucky child services are not called.

    Report this comment

    Jimhow

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • What a breathtaking lack of compassion most of these comments show. I feel sorry and angry at such mean-spiritedness.

    Report this comment

    Lizzie Rees

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • I agree with the comments on here entirely, this is down to laziness and lack of discipline. However what annoys me even more is the following. The article states "Around 50 youngsters from families receiving qualifying benefits attend daily. Fruit, toast and cereal are offered, as well as bacon sandwiches on Fridays." So from that we can reasonably assume that the families are already receiving benefits to look after the children, along with working tax credits and got knows what else. In essence the parents are getting a double dose of benefits, some one please explain how that works? Parents should be given vouchers for food rather than money, much less chance of the money being frittered away then. Its the kids I feel sorry for.

    Report this comment

    Nixsonr

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • To clarify ! Poor as in not very good , not as in having little money.

    Report this comment

    Poppys Dad

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • The reason they are hungry is down to poor parents . Nothing to do with anything else.

    Report this comment

    Poppys Dad

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • Tesco value bread - 2.1p per slice. Kingsmill 50-50 (the healthier option) is 3.5p per slice. Iceberg lettuce 49p. Sliced chicken roll 3p per slice. Ham 2p per slice. Don't give me that rubbish about the poor struggling due to Cameron's government squeezing - you can make a filling sandwich for 15p (ham, chicken, lettuce) and make it healthy with 15p for an apple or banana. Cheaper than a single bag of crisps.

    Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • I have 3 girls, and yes money is tight but I will not allow them out of the house in the morning without their breakfast. My eldest is only 6 and doesn't care for breakfast but she has no choice.

    Report this comment

    tina

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • The reason some children are hungry when they arrive at school is because they maybe don't like the healthy food offered to them at home or the parents are too lazy to make sure their children have a decent meal. Benefit payments are very generous but some parents would rather spend money on tattoos, flat screen TVs etc, in real terms food has never been cheaper and most of the supermarkets have very low cost vegetables and basic foods, trouble is many parents are to lazy to cook and depend on expensive pre cooked meals.

    Report this comment

    Jenkins

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • Some parents prefer to spend their money on Smart Phones, designer clothes, cigarettes and alcohol. Poor kids!

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • I don't buy in to the 'too poor' theory. All of the supermarkets provide both value brand bread, cereal and milk. Food parcels for the destitute also often contain cereal and milk. I would put money in the real story being that the children are used to getting their coco pops or lucky charms, and when mum dad runs out of money they won't buy the cheap stuff as the kids won't be keen. So they don't get any breakfast.

    Report this comment

    Sentinel Red

    Friday, January 15, 2016

  • This is the reality of life in Cameron's and Osborne's Britain today !....the poor struggling to pay for the '_ankers' greed !....while the rich just get richer !...

    Report this comment

    freedomf

    Friday, January 15, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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