Educating youngsters about healthy breakfasts

Weetabix supports the SGF Healthy Living Programme with its school Welby Big Breakfast events

Kristian Sharp, from Weetabix, joined the Healthy Living Programme team to help educate Wellshot Primary School pupils.
Kristian Sharp, from Weetabix, joined the Healthy Living Programme team to help educate Wellshot Primary School pupils.

WHETHER you’re a c-store retailer, wholesaler, FMCG manufacturer or school, you will want to get involved with the SGF Healthy Living Programme.

Its Welby Big Breakfast events at primary schools across Scotland bring benefits to everyone participating – but especially the kids and families influenced by the project.

The overriding view of all those who run and support the visits is that a healthy, nutritious breakfast can really help improve pupils’ concentration in class – which in turn can boost their prospects in life.

And given the importance of this message, it’s encouraging that the HLP team is having a busy start to 2024 – with four events in January and four more planned for this month.

All of these visits are being supported by Weetabix, which has provided 1,500 portions of cereal that the HLP says will have fed more than 2,000 pupils by the end of February.

And Weetabix foodservice channel manager Kristian Sharp, who travelled from the firm’s Northamptonshire HQ to see the Big Breakfast at Wellshot Primary School, in Shettleston, Glasgow, said the company hoped to continue its support all year.

During each visit, which also involve c-stores and wholesalers pitching in to provide food, pupils get the chance to sample cereal, fresh fruit and toast with banana class by class.

And with the programme fully funded by the Scottish Government, director Kathryn Neil and her team make sure the events are both educational and entertaining – with plenty of interaction with the excited youngsters.

As children leave the Welby events, the younger ones receive activity packs while the older ones get Eat Well Guide packs, which include a pencil, rubber and ruler with a QR code for the HLP website.

The pack includes advice on healthy options to select from different categories. So, when it comes to carbohydrates such as cereal for example, it advises choosing wholegrain or higher-fibre versions with less added fat, salt and sugar.

The pupils also usually get vouchers to redeem products or get money off services provided by whichever c-store has supported each HLP visit.

Speaking at Wellshot, Neil said: “These events are fun and full of energy.

“We’re educating pupils to start the day with healthy food and helping them learn about the importance of fuelling their bodies correctly.

“So, while we work towards changing the eating habits of the younger generation, we also encourage them to take the message home to their parents.

“This can help create footfall for the retailers who get involved and show how important convenience stores can be in their communities.”

Neil added: “Thanks has to go to the stores and wholesalers for getting involved, while the support from Weetabix has been wonderful and the HLP team is really grateful for it.”

Sharp said it was important for Weetabix to support the Big Breakfasts because of the way they promoted a nutritious start to the day.

He said the food firm was aligned with the HLP’s commitment to health and wellbeing, while also fostering community engagement and positive lifestyle choices not only for the children but also the families involved.

The manager explained: “Weetabix is 100% wholegrain, high in fibre, low in sugar, salt and fat, and fortified with riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and iron, all of which contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle for adults and children alike.”

Sharp also had advice for convenience retailers on how to cater to shoppers seeking a healthier cereal option such as Weetabix, saying smaller pack sizes such as the 12s or 24s were often preferred.

However, he added that bigger packs such as 48s and 72s could be a great option and value for money when it came to families.

He said: “It’s advisable for retailers to stock a mix of pack options to meet diverse customer preferences.”

Sharp pointed out that retailers could promote Weetabix as a beneficial option by prominently displaying it in sections dedicated to healthy foods.

He explained: “They can use shelf tags or signage to highlight its nutritional benefits, such as high fibre content and essential vitamins.

“Offering promotions on Weetabix, creating eye-catching displays and educating shoppers about its contribution to a balanced diet can further encourage its selection as a health-conscious choice.”

Sharp also pointed out that the #Debatethebix marketing campaign – which has involved celebrities Craig Revel Horwood and Linda Robson quizzing members of the public about whether they preferred their Weetabix with hot or cold milk – had got the nation talking and increased the visibility of the brand.

The Wellshot HLP visit was also supported by the local Greens of Shettleston store.

Greens Retail area manager Caroline Cunningham said: “The children are our future and we must help educate them on healthy choices and the goodness that comes from starting the day off with a healthy breakfast.

“As an integral part of the community in Shettleston, we at Greens believe it is really important that we support our neighbourhood, allowing our youngest and our future customers the opportunity to sample some of the healthier choice products that we have available on a daily basis.

“We fully believe in giving kids a healthy breakfast, supporting their wellbeing throughout the day.”

The Big Breakfast at Wellshot was organised with the HLP by school clerical assistant Marie Murray, who said she would encourage other schools to participate in the Welby events as the whole process was very straightforward and efficient.

Deputy headteacher Karen Beach highlighted how it was always noticeable that pupils who didn’t have breakfast would be flagging in class by about 10am.

She said: “I think it’s important for the children to know that breakfast is one of the main meals of the day, that it sets you up for the day ahead and helps you focus in class.

“The Welby Big Breakfast has been a fabulous event and the pupils have really enjoyed it. The Healthy Living Programme team have been lovely, too, and very patient with the children.”