Educators Agree: Students Are Heading Back To School Hungry

Press / Media Release

Educators Agree: Students Are Heading Back To School Hungry

“Frequently students tell me they did not have breakfast and are hungry.” –Teacher, New York

Contact: Kelli Windsor | kwindsor@strength.org | O: 202-478-6553 | C: 202-725-5019

Washington, DC (August 27, 2013) – An overwhelming three in four teachers and principals report regularly seeing hungry kids in their schools, says a new report released by Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. These same teachers and principals are spending more out of their own pocket to help hungry kids.  On average, teachers who buy food for hungry students spend $37 a month— that’s about $300 per school year or about five tanks of gas. Principals report spending about $60 a month, which over a school year could add up to be the cost of several car payments. 

Hunger In Our Schools: Teachers Report 2013,” surveyed more than 1,200 K-8 teachers and principals nationwide.  As Americans gear up for back to school, the report highlights the on-the-ground view of hunger as told by public school teachers and principals. Some sobering views of hunger in the study are balanced by educators’ optimism around a new program – ‘in the classroom breakfast’ – that’s increasing academic achievement and reducing childhood hunger at the same time. 

Princess Moss, an elementary school teacher from Virginia and National Education Association Executive Committee member said, “As an elementary school teacher, I can assure you that I had students who came into my classroom without having eaten anything since lunch the previous day. Child hunger is a serious problem that negatively affected my student’s self-esteem, ability to learn, and behavior. I would always keep snacks in my class for students that were hungry and who were having trouble concentrating during instructional time.”   

Half of teachers surveyed say hungry children in their classroom is a serious issue—the highest level measured in the four years of conducting this research. A teacher from Colorado remarked, “I can tell based on grades when students haven’t had enough to eat that day. Scores are much lower when students haven’t eaten breakfast.”  

Educators surveyed saw bright spots too. Nine in ten see breakfast as key to turning the tides on hunger and achievement.   Many identified creative approaches to serving school breakfast as a critical part of any effort to help children.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, both of which offer free and reduced-price meals to low-income students. However, of the number of low-income students who eat a free or reduced-price school lunch (21 million), only about half currently also eat a school breakfast (less than 11 million).

“Closing this gap is critical to ensuring success for our students,” said Bill Shore, Founder and CEO of Share Our Strength. “Pioneering community leaders around the country have dared to reimagine our current, ineffective model that breakfast must be served before school, in a cafeteria that isolates kids in need from those who are not. Instead these leaders have implemented an after the bell, breakfast in the classroom model that’s effectively connecting kids to healthy meals, improving academic achievement, and stressing social inclusion.  It’s a model that deserves to be reimagined nationally.” 

Teachers and principals in the new survey who have breakfast in the classroom experience say they’ve seen improvement in alertness (76%), better attendance (57%), fewer disciplinary problems (54%), fewer visits to the school nurse (55%) and fewer tardy students (49%). More than half of teachers report seeing behavior and health improvements in students since implementing the program.

“Importantly, these are benefits that improve the entire classroom and school dynamic,” said Shore. “Breakfast in the classroom lifts many boats.”

The No Kid Hungry campaign works to increase participation in the School Breakfast Program by providing grants and advice that helps schools make changes to the way breakfast is served, setting up state breakfast challenges, and supporting local breakfast legislation. This work is generously supported by Kellogg’s Corporate Citizenship Fund, the charitable arm of Kellogg Company, and Weight Watchers®.  Since 2011, states with No Kid Hungry campaigns saw an increase of 28 million school breakfasts served.

This fall, the No Kid Hungry campaign is building a map that paints an unprecedented view of how school breakfast programs work across the country. Help us identify how schools are serving school breakfast so we can better target our work by going to NoKidHungry.org/BackToSchool and map your school.

“Hunger In Our Schools: Teachers Report 2013” report is generously supported by C&S Wholesale Grocers. APCO Insight conducted the online survey. Learn more at NoKidHungry.org/BackToSchool.

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ABOUT SHARE OUR STRENGTH’S NO KID HUNGRY CAMPAIGN

No child should grow up hungry in America, but one in five children struggles with hunger. Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign is ending childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day. The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals and teaches low-income families to cook healthy, affordable meals through Cooking Matters.  This work is accomplished through the No Kid Hungry network, made up of private citizens, public officials, nonprofits, business leaders and others providing innovative hunger solutions in their communities. Join us at NoKidHungry.org.

ABOUT C&S WHOLESALE GROCERS, INC.

C&S Wholesale Grocers of Keene, N.H. is the largest food wholesaler and according to Forbes magazine, the 10th largest privately held company in the United States. The company distributes food to supermarkets, retail stores and military bases across the country. Currently, C&S serves about 3,900 stores from more than 50 locations in 12 states. Among our customers are many of America's best known companies, including Stop & Shop, Giant of Carlisle, Giant of Landover, Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P), Ralphs, Safeway and Target.

C&S community involvement programs support initiatives to fight hunger and to promote the health and enrichment of communities that are homes to the company's employees and facilities. To learn more: http://community.cswg.com.

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