Hunger Hides in the Classroom
“A child whose nutritional needs are met is a child who can reach his or her full potential”
Have you ever been so hungry you couldn’t focus? I know that when I’m hungry, an errand, a household chore—even the simplest task seems impossible. Now imagine you’re an elementary school student learning how to read, or a middle school student being introduced to algebra for the first time. The truth is, it’s hard to focus on anything, much less learn a new skill, on an empty stomach. And it’s especially hard for kids.
While it may be hard to believe, 1 in 8 kids in Minnesota lives with hunger—missing 31 million meals a year. And more than half of those missing meals are from suburban areas. Child hunger tends to hide in the classroom, the cafeteria and in the hallways. Students may not admit that they’re hungry. Rather, hunger can sometimes manifest itself in behavior problems or frequent trips to the nurse’s office.
Students are often hesitant to eat breakfast at school even if they’re hungry because there’s this perception that only kids from low-income homes eat school breakfast.
Breakfast After the Bell removes this stigma.
The Breakfast After the Bell program, part of Second Harvest Heartland’s child hunger initiative, is designed to ensure healthy child development through reliable access to a nutritious breakfast for all students.
We partner with schools and school districts to get more kids eating breakfast by bringing it into the school day and reducing the barriers to participation. We share Breakfast After the Bell best practices, grants and other support tools with schools interested in reaching more kids and bringing breakfast into the school day.
We do this because we know that children who have regular access to meals have improved cognition and behavior, lower rates of illness and chronic disease and improved academic performance. They also grow up to be healthier, more productive citizens.
While Second Harvest Heartland and our partners make a powerful difference for families who are struggling, there is more work to be done, and we need your help to do it. Consider a donation this holiday season and help us provide even more meals to those who need it most.
*Written by Theresa McCormick, director of programs, Second Harvest Heartland*