Hunger in the Classroom
A new report by Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign released yesterday highlights the scope of hunger in the classroom in the United States. According to the report, titled Hunger in Our Schools: Teachers Report 2013, teachers spend an average of $37 per month of their own money buying food for hungry students. Half reported hunger presented a serious problem in their classroom. And 73 percent said they have students who regularly come to school hungry because they don’t have access to enough food at home.
While hunger remains an invisible problem it has profound effects on the intellectual development of students. Students who are not hungry are more alert in class, have fewer disciplinary problems, perform better on standardized tests, are less likely to miss class, and are far more likely to graduate from high school.
Yet hunger in the United States is at near record levels. More than 16 million children live in households facing food insecurity, and half of all SNAP recipients are children. This while Congress continues to fight over dramatic cuts to funding for nutritional assistance programs. A petition urging Congress to retain the SNAP program as part of the Farm Bill has collected more than 45,000 signatures. But little concrete progress has been made so far. In the meantime, local food banks are stretched beyond capacity, struggling to ensure everyone has access to a basic level of sustenance. This in the world’s largest agricultural exporter. There’s clearly a tension here.