In our home, children don’t go to school with an empty stomach. My husband makes breakfast and their sandwiches for lunch. I finish packing the lunches when he goes to work. All my children get a mid-morning snack supplied by the school or brought from home. We can’t afford to buy lunch given our tight budget, however, my kids always get a complete homemade lunch. My children are healthy and growing, and doing well in school.
When Share Our Strength released its 2012 Annual Teacher’s Survey last week, “a majority of teachers say they have kids in their classes who regularly come to school hungry.” As a mom of 5 kids, I can’t imagine having no choice but to send my children to school hungry. Children need breakfast to get their brains fueled for learning. How can a child learn if they thinking about their next meal, or trying to ignore the growling in their stomach?
The impact of hunger on students can be devastating, whether it’s constant illness, behavior issues, or an inability to concentrate. The impact on our future?
What We Can Do
Support school breakfast programs. Make the call to your representative and let them know how much you value these programs. Often there is instability in the home like unemployment or a single parent household. School breakfast programs fill in the gap, reducing behavioral issues in the classroom.
Help teachers and the school administration spread the word about the breakfast program at school. Creating an atmosphere that supports helping others helps parents feel more comfortable about receiving help.
Support food programs through the Parent Teacher or Home and School Organization. When parents publicly make hunger a priority with an organized group, it helps everyone at school.
Support healthy food initiatives at school. Encourage the school to provide healthy snacks to all its students, whether the snacks are provided by the teacher or sold by the school. Encourage the school to provide healthy lunches for students to purchase. Encourage the school to develop a food policy for parties that encourages healthy foods over candy and processed food.
As a family, make regular donations to food pantries in the area. Donations are often lower in the summer time when families are vacationing. However, this is the time of greatest need for children unable to receive the school breakfast or lunch programs because school is closed.