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Hunger’s Effect on Education

School supply lists have items like pencils, paper, glue, markers and notebooks – all the tools a child needs to be successful in school. But something important is missing. Students need food to perform their best in class. 

One in eight children in the U.S. is food insecure, which can threaten a child’s health and well-being. Food insecurity can also impact a child’s education. Not having adequate nutrition makes school a challenge in several ways. And it starts early. 

Good nutrition is critical for brain development and learning from infancy onwards. When kids go to school, not having enough food or not eating enough nutritious foods puts children at a disadvantage. Experts say poor nutrition can undermine children’s school readiness, which can be a predictor of academic success in the future. Studies have shown that children who experience food insecurity in their first years lack the same opportunities to be successful in school as children who were not food insecure. 

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It’s not just younger kids who are affected when they don’t have enough to eat. The effects follow a child and grow worse if the issue isn’t addressed. Experts say that food-insecure children have a harder time getting along with others, and they are more likely to repeat a grade.  

We can all relate to being hungry and not being able to concentrate, but what if it’s time to take a test? A study in North Carolina found that when students’ families ran out of SNAP benefits for the month, their test scores dropped. Not only does food insecurity translate to lower math and reading scores, it can also lead to more absences and tardiness. In fact, food-insecure students are less likely to graduate high school

There are also school-related emotional and social setbacks when a child doesn’t have enough to eat. School is more than just reading and writing, it’s a time for social growth and development. Students who are food insecure have a harder time making friends and forming bonds. 

While the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program is very helpful in combatting students’ hunger, it hasn’t completely solved the problem. Why? Some students’ families may not qualify for the program. Or they didn’t fill out the necessary paperwork. And while students may be eating breakfast and lunch at school, they don’t always know if they’ll have dinner at home. 

It’s why we need people like you – committed to helping children get the food they need to grow up healthy and successful. Together we are ensuring children and families receive much-needed food and essentials like hygiene products. Your donation reaches the most vulnerable students through our School Resource Rooms and backpacks program, making it possible for kids to start the school year off nourished and ready to learn. 

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