Arla & Magic Breakfast farm visit

Third of children are going to school without breakfast, according to the nation's primary school teachers

Arla and Magic Breakfast partner to provide nutritious dairy to schools and help children understand where their food comes from 

Before the pandemic 1.7 million schoolchildren in the UK were at risk of morning hunger. That figure has risen substantially to 2.6 million and many, including 95 per cent of primary school teachers, fear this will increase considerably with the ongoing rise in living costs.

Shockingly, teachers estimate that 76 per cent of children arrive at school hungry. However, to help mitigate the number of hungry children, dairy cooperative Arla has been working with Magic Breakfast, a charity aiming to end hunger as a barrier to education in UK schools, to provide over 950,000 milk donations (enough to fill almost 9.5 million bowls of cereal) to schools across the UK, to ensure that no child is too hungry to learn.

A survey of 500 primary school teachers in the UK, commissioned by Arla, found that 81 per cent report that children struggle to concentrate on schoolwork if they have arrived with an empty stomach.  The teachers say that common effects include children becoming moody (75 per cent) and 67 per cent of teachers say that children feel lethargic by mid-morning.

Clearly, the provisions taken by Arla and Magic Breakfast are as essential now as when the partnership first started, in 2020, after 76 per cent of teachers feel that food insecurity is affecting more pupils now than it did a few years ago.

As well as providing milk for 200 of Magic Breakfast’s partner schools, Arla and Magic Breakfast are on a mission to help children better understand the 5w’s of where their milk comes from, how it ends up in their cereal bowls and the work farmers put into making it.

In a first for the partnership, Arla opened its barn doors to reveal the farmers responsible behind producing core breakfast staples, like milk, and how it’s made. Arla recently invited primary school children down to a farm in Yorkshire to see the action unravel, to help them understand nature and how food is produced. Welcoming a school from Leeds, an Arla farmer-owner turned his farm into a classroom to offer a unique opportunity for children to learn how the milk in their school breakfast clubs goes from farm to fridges.

Classrooms should be filled with smiling faces, not empty stomachs and having access to nutrition has a core part to play in this. Arla is aware of the essential nutrients milk provides, including protein, calcium, and vitamins B2, B12. As the UK’s largest dairy cooperative, it is up to Arla to ensure children up and down the UK have access to healthy milk, that its farmers work so hard to produce.

With even the Government’s National Food Strategy skipping breakfast as the most important meal of the day and its lack of action on the food insecurity crisis, it is crucial that Arla and Magic Breakfast continue its efforts.

Alongside this, the survey also found that primary school teachers estimate that up to eight children in their class don't understand where breakfast staples, like milk, come from, whilst nearly half of the pupils said they have never been to an actual farm.

Danny Micklethwaite, spokesperson at Arla said, “No child should have to start the day hungry and it’s devastating that these cases are only growing. The importance of starting the day with a healthy breakfast is well documented and we’ve all experienced the difficulty of trying to concentrate on an empty stomach. Yet, Arla is aware too many schoolchildren start each day without receiving the essential nutrients they need to grow and fuel their learning.

It’s clear that for many of these children, making the connection between farming and food was a distant thought. That’s why we wanted to take children to the heart of it, to help educate on the importance of breakfast to their growth and development, but also where core breakfast staples come from and how farmers ensure it arrives safely and sustainably into their cereal bowls. After the success of this year’s farm trip, I’m looking forward to seeing what other possibilities our partnership with Magic Breakfast brings, so that we can provide the next generation with the support they need.”

With hunger being a major barrier to learning, the rise in children needing support at breakfast is a real concern for teachers, after 90 per cent felt that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for their pupils. Followed by 82 per cent explaining that a child needs a proper breakfast so that they can focus in class and do their best work.

In fact, 47 per cent of teachers say they bring in additional food to offer children something to eat, as they’ve arrived at school without.

The top reasons that teachers felt would help most with the problem of children going to school on an empty stomach includes free school breakfasts for children who need them (75 per cent), financial help from the government (55 per cent), more education on why breakfast is the most important meal of the day (30 per cent).

Andrea Doughty, Magic Breakfast Team Leader (Schools) said, “It’s truly devastating that the number of children requiring support at breakfast time is only growing. We need to join forces and come together to provide these children with the food and support needed for their development and to fuel their learning.

With the help of partners like Arla, we offer a nutritious breakfast to hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren every day across the country but with the rising cost of living, sadly the number of children going hungry is only growing.

It was wonderful to take children from one of our partner schools in Leeds to an Arla dairy farm and it highlighted the importance of educating children about where their food comes from and making healthy choices. We hope this will be the start of more real-life learning experiences for the children.”

Arla is working with Magic Breakfast to ensure that no child is left too hungry to learn and exploring new ways to tackle food insecurity. To find out more about Arla and Magic Breakfast’s partnership, visit 


*The study of 500 primary school teachers was commissioned by Arla and conducted by Perspectus Global in June 2022.

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