Cities

A Recipe to Fight Childhood Hunger

Hugh Galdones

By Jason Vincent

“Feeding a child means giving them a chance at success.”

Ask any teacher and they’ll tell you: hungry kids can’t learn. They know this because a majority of them see students who regularly come to school hungry. Simply put, hunger affects a child’s ability to learn. It’s a travesty that teachers themselves spend an average of $300 of their own money to buy food for students each year. It doesn’t have to be this way. Childhood hunger is a solvable problem.

One solution is school breakfast, which can mean the difference between focus and confusion, success and failure for so many kids. Data shows that children who eat breakfast are more likely to graduate and be successful in the future by earning higher incomes and enjoying higher employment rates, helping to break the cycle of poverty.

In Illinois, where I live, nearly half a million kids struggle with hunger, less than 40 percent of kids eligible for free or reduced-price school meals are eating school breakfast.

That’s because the traditional way of serving breakfast—in the building, before the school day starts—is ineffective. Families have a tough time getting kids to school before the bell and kids who do make it on time can feel singled out and ashamed for receiving a needed meal.

There’s a better way. And it’s why I work with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. We know that something as simple as making breakfast part of the regular school day can make the difference between kids eating and going hungry.

When schools serve breakfast once school starts rather than before, more of the kids who need the meal are actually eating it. Teachers agree: a meal at the start of the school day provides the sustenance hungry kids need to thrive. No child should struggle to access food. No teacher should feel helpless knowing the children they’re educating are distracted by hunger.

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