But, as Amy Cohn, a registered dietitian and senior nutrition manager at General Mills, told FoodNavigator-USA at the Food Nutrition Conference & Expo in Orlando this week where the CPG giant captured in slow-motion GIFs the squeals of delighted dietitians descending the slide: “We really wanted to speak to child in all of us and … evoke that inspiration that you had when you were a child to help other kids.”
She explained that participants were encouraged to share their GIF – along with General Mills’ branded-building hashtag #BigG – across social media to their networks to raise awareness that one in eight children in the US, or approximately 9 million children, are living with hunger.
Each GIF links to No Kid Hungry’s website, where visitors are encouraged to donate to the non-profit, which is working to end childhood hunger by supporting school meal programs, providing grants for equipment to feed children and advocating for supportive laws and policies.
With a track recording of feeding 10 children for every $1 donated, Cohn notes it doesn’t take much to make a change.
“It can be $5. It doesn’t need to be $50 or 500,” she said.
General Mills also put its money where its mouth is by donating $250,000 to the non-profit from FNCE.
Cohn added: “We’ve been partnering with them since 2014, and over the last 10 years we have donated more than $9 million” to make sure every child has access to a nutritious breakfast.
As a sizeable vendor to the school meals program, General Mills’ playful approach at FNCE to support No Kid Hungry does double duty in terms of brand building – thanks to the giant cereal box modelled after a Cheerios’ package – and generating funds to cover potential sales.
While this may come off as self-serving, Cohn says it is smart business.
“Doing good delivers really good business results,” she explained. “We firmly believe that the good nutrition of cereal has the power to change lives. And if it changes lives, it will impact our business in a really good way. It just comes down to doing the right thing and doing what we need to do to get kids the good nutrition they need. That has served as well,” she added.
‘Data really show the phenomenal nutrient and food group intake’ with cereal
In addition to raising awareness for No Kid Hungry, General Mill’s playful booth also promoted new research published first at FNCE and soon in a nutrition journal that suggests people who eat cereal for breakfast have higher nutrient intakes and are more likely to meet nutrient recommendations for which many Americans fall short.
Analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found people who consume ready-to-eat cereal, like those sold by General Mills, consume more potassium, vitamin D, fiber and calcium than those who consume other typical breakfasts.
As for nutrients of concern that the dietary guidelines say Americans should limit, the research showed that people who consume cereal versus other typical breakfasts, like pastries, toast or eggs, take in “less sodium and less saturated fat and the same amount of added sugar – not more, not less, the same,” Cohn said.
“This data really shows the phenomenal nutrient and food group intake that you get when you’re eating cereal for breakfast,” she added.
Cereal also is one of the more affordable options for breakfast, despite the category seeing hefty price hikes this year in response to rising food inflation, Cohn said, citing research by General Mills that prices a bowl of cereal with milk at less than 50 cents per serving.
Combined, Cohn stressed, these data points tell a compelling story about cereal and General Mills’ efforts to help ensure children start their academic day on the right foot.