No child should ever go hungry. Not just because our kids shouldn't suffer from such extreme poverty that they have to forgo a meal, but because when our kids go hungry, it affects our whole country. Children who are malnourished struggle academically. Kids who don't eat breakfast have a harder time focusing and learning.
That's why I support the No Kid Hungry campaign. This week was National School Breakfast Week. Does that sound silly? It shouldn't. Because children who eat a healthy breakfast are far more likely to remember what they've learned and are better equipped to learn more.
Perhaps the fact that I homeschool has made me better able to understand the ramifications of my kids skipping breakfast. If fact, just two weeks ago, when I picked her up from a morning piano lesson I was distressed to see that she couldn't remember the names of the notes that she'd had absolutely no problem reading the day before. Confused and a little embarrassed, I told the teacher I'd help her more at home. When we got in our car to leave, my daughter started crying upset that she couldn't remember and that she'd had a bad lesson. By the time we got home, she was sobbing. This was so unusual, I didn't really know what to do and wracked my brain trying to figure out the problem. Just before we arrived home, an idea entered my head and I asked her what she had eaten for breakfast. Guess what? Yep! She hadn't eaten one. I thought my husband had fed her, or that she had made her own.
I remember getting this same kind of reaction from her two or three times when she was younger and learning to read...but having forgotten to eat breakfast. It was hard for me to determine what was wrong back then...just imagine how confused parents who don't homeschool are if their child starts to struggle academically as a result. I would imagine that eating breakfast might not even be considered.
And what about those low-income families who might not be able to buy breakfast products and rely on their child's school to provide food?
I want to share with you five fast facts from the No Kid Hungry website about the importance of school breakfast programs...
- STUDENTS DON’T EAT BREAKFAST: Even though more than 21 million low-income kids in the U.S. rely on a free or reduced-price school lunch, only half – about 11 million – are also getting a school breakfast. [FRAC School Breakfast Scorecard, 2011-2012]
- TEACHERS SEE HUNGER: Nearly two-thirds (62%) of K-8 public school teachers said they had children in their classrooms who regularly came to school hungry because there wasn’t enough to eat at home. [No Kid Hungry’s “Hunger In Our Schools” survey, 2012]
- BREAKFAST IS KEY TO LEARNING: Teachers said school breakfast led to increased concentration (95%), better academic performance (89%) and better behavior in the classroom (73%). [No Kid Hungry’s “Hunger In Our Schools” survey, 2012]
- BREAKFAST CHANGES LIVES: According to an analysis of the long-term impact of school breakfast, this morning meal does more than simply provide children with essential daily nutrition. On average, students who eat school breakfast have been shown to achieve 17.5% higher scores on standardized math tests and attend 1.5 more days of school per year. These factors are linked to a child’s improved chance of getting a high school diploma, and high school graduates are more likely to be employed, earn higher wages and see greater self-sufficiency as adults. [“Ending Childhood Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis,” 2013]
- YOU CAN HELP MORE KIDS GET BREAKFAST: The No Kid Hungry campaign has found that innovative ways of serving breakfast – like moving it from the cafeteria to the classroom – can give many more kids a chance to benefit from breakfast at school. Increasing participation in school breakfast is just one way No Kid Hungry is making sure all kids get the food they need every day, and you can help. We’re building an online map that paints a virtually unprecedented view of school breakfast programs across the country. We’re asking people to call a school(s), ask three simple questions about school breakfast and report their findings into our online map. Visit NoKidHungry.org/Breakfast to get started.
So what can you do?
1. Make sure your child gets a healthy breakfast every day. Their little bodies need the fuel to function properly.
2. Spread the news. Get to know the other parents in your child's class and share with them how important breakfast is for their child.
3. Get together with your child's school to promote the No Kid Hungry intiative. Enlist them to reach out to parents and promote the message.
4. Follow No Kid Hungry on Facebook and learn more about what resources are available to parents and educators.
5. And if you are an educator, register for the No Kids Hungry toolkit.