School povertyBreakfast for Learning programmes should be expanded to include lunch options to ensure benefits to students are maximised according to a major think-tank.

Currently 6,000 students are fed a healthy breakfast at 49 schools in Canada, where the research was carried out, but study author Alison Howard believes lunch should be served as well.

Negative impacts of a lack of healthy food
"Children can face negative impacts if they don't get enough healthy food," she said. "For example, teenagers are particularly at risk from suffering from depression, social anxiety, suicide. Also nutritionally deprived children tend to experience more health problems, such as anemia, weight loss, colds and infections. They tend to be absent from school more often, and have more learning difficulties.

"Moreover, diet-deprived children are just less able to concentrate and perform well at school, thus threatening their opportunity to gain an education and to gain those vital skills that they're going to need for the rest of their lives."

Hundreds of children skipping lunch
With hundreds of children in the UK currently skipping lunch as they can't afford to buy it and are not being provided with the free school meals they are entitled to, the Conference Board of Canada study also offers a cost-based solution.

The report concludes that "investing in more extensive free school meal programs now will mean spending less money for social assistance, and healthcare in the future".

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Our newly released book 'The Food Fight' aims to educate children about the benefits of healthy food groups and how making healthy food choices can benefit them - click here for more details.