Kellogg works with local charities and NGO’s to run breakfast programmes for children in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Russia, Denmark and Sweden. Tom Idle reports.
“Corporates that ignore the communities in which they operate will no doubt suffer in the future,” says Bruce Learner, Senior CSR and Partnerships Manager for Kellogg in Europe. In fact, addressing local community issues remains a core part of the global food brand’s sustainability commitment – something the company takes just as seriously as implementing climate-smart best practice within its agricultural supply base.
With a long history of giving and investing in community projects – founder W. K. Kellogg
is often cited as one of the great philanthropists of the 20th century – the company’s global social responsibility strategy manifests itself in a number of ways.
While the goal is for every ounce of food produced to be sold and consumed, there is sometimes excess food, and that is given to food banks.
There is also a focus on cause-related marketing campaigns, which sees Kellogg making donations in response to customers buying products. In 2014, the ‘Buy a box = Give a bowl’ promotion, which ran in 18 countries, saw it donate a serving of cereal to a food bank for every box of Cornflakes, Crunchy Nut, or other popular brand cereals sold. Since the beginning of 2013, the company has given away more than 175 million servings of food to children and families in need across Europe.
But it is the third pillar of Kellogg’s signature Breakfasts for Better Days programme
that Learner is most excited about right now. The Breakfast programme is an initiative that gives cash (and sometimes food) to schools to help them create and run long-lasting breakfast clubs where children can get nutritiously balanced food before they start their school day. “The idea is to make sure that children from tougher backgrounds or families that can’t afford to provide breakfast are getting what they need – Kellogg’s products, and other breakfast foods popular in each country,” says Learner.
Traditionally, breakfast clubs run for an hour at the beginning of the school day where children can grab some much needed food, like cereal, fruit, yoghurt or bread. According to Kellogg’s these clubs can help to boost the punctuality, behaviour and concentration of kids aged 4 to 11. In countries like the UK, they can also provide affordable childcare, enabling parents get to work earlier. The breakfasts also provide essential micronutrients that may be lacking in the diets of kids from communities with a low socio-economic status.
Kellogg works with local charities and NGO’s to run programmes in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Russia, Denmark and Sweden
In the UK, where the initiative has been running one year, more than 2,500 school breakfast clubs have opened their doors thanks to the cash grants, food donations and equipment provided by Kellogg’s.
But rather than just providing cash to schools, Kellogg thought it was essential to provide training, to support school staff in running successful and sustainable breakfast clubs that have the desired impact within local communities. “In the UK, breakfast clubs are well established and most schools offer some sort of early morning care for kids, whether to provide breakfast or childcare,” says Learner.
“By providing training we were doing our best to support a high quality project, and helping to share best practice,” says Learner.
So, in the UK, the business developed a series of Breakfast Club Master-classes – a roadshow of face-to-face sessions designed to give schools the tools they need. Each Master-class gave guidance on how to best run a breakfast club, where to get funding, what kind of staffing is required and what are the benefits.
Over a three-year period, Kellogg and its charity partner ContinYou helped to train more than 1,000 teachers, creating over 1,000 new breakfast clubs across the UK. “But as time went on, it became clear that school staff were finding it harder to travel to these meetings, even though they were regionally based,” says Learner.
The solution has been found in the development of online breakfast club training, created in partnership with the University of Northumbria’ s Healthy Living Unit. The Online Training and Grants Package
is an e-learning platform which users can access at any time of the day, 365 days of the year. All of the training is free, paid for by Kellogg, and consists of a series of bite-sized sessions – tackling everything from social relationships and education and cognitive performance, to child nutrition and financial planning. Learners have to take a short quiz after each module and, in return, they get individual feedback and a certificate to acknowledge they have completed the training. A team from the University is on hand to deal with any technical problems and provide advice.
Professor Greta Defeyter Director of Healthy Living at the University said, ”The online training is an excellent example of Northumbria University’s commitment to Knowledge Exchange. The partnership between Healthy Living and Kellogg’s has been a tremendous success and enabled school staff to engage in CPD that has resulted in a direct impact on pupils’ educational attainment, social relationships, eating habits and engagement.”
Cash support has not been removed entirely. Once the training is complete, those from schools where there is a 35% (or more) free school meal entitlement are able to access a grant of £1,000 to help sustain their breakfast
In the next 12 months, Kellogg and the University aim to help 250 school staff through the e-learning vehicle.
To ensure Kellogg’s and the University of Northumbria are delivering what schools need Learner and his team have asked the University of Leeds, to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme – to assess the user experience of taking the online training, and to establish just how well it might help support their breakfast club. The findings were positive, with 82% of those completing the e learning rating it as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’,
Meanwhile, 101 respondents (78% of those that completed the online training) received the Kellogg’s Sustainability Grant. 76% of those that did not get the cash still found the training to be useful.
Not keen to rest on its laurels and let its cash donations do the talking, Kellogg’s has sought to evolve its popular Breakfast Club initiative in a way that scales its impact by sharing best practice more efficiently and effectively. And, as with so many best practice CSR programmes, partnerships – whether in delivering the initiative, or having it evaluated – are proving invaluable.