Students are better able to learn when their minds and bodies are nourished, studies show. But every day, more and more students arrive at school with hunger pangs.
A new study by Share Our Strength for its “No Kid Hungry” campaign found that three out of five teachers reported having hungry students, and that the problem is getting worse. Eight out of 10 public school teachers said their students come to school hungry at least once a week.
Besides being more alert, kids who eat breakfast are less likely to be absent, or tardy, or cause disciplinary problems. Yet too many eligible kids are missing out on free school breakfasts. Fewer than half of the 20 million low-income students who ate a free or reduced-price lunch last year also ate school breakfast.
The No Kid Hungry campaign will work with schools and communities to increase participation in school breakfast programs. Some parents are unaware of the programs, and some students are embarrassed to sign up for them. One way around that is Philadelphia’s universal feeding program, which makes free meals available to all students, thus reducing paperwork and eliminating the stigma associated with poverty.
Every year, Americans discard 40 percent of the nation’s food, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. That’s $165 billion wasted. With children coming to school hungry, that’s hard to fathom. Both realities must be addressed — food waste and hunger.