No Kid Hungry Starts with Breakfast
More than 16 million children in the United States struggle with hunger, or one out of five kids. Teachers see this hunger firsthand in their classrooms. In a recent survey, three out of five K–8 public school teachers said they taught kids who regularly came to school hungry because they weren't getting enough to eat at home.
What if I told you that there was a solution? There is, and it's called school breakfast.
Anecdotally, we constantly hear of schools that serve breakfast to all their kids, but only during testing week because educators acknowledge the connection between breakfast and success. New analysis released by whole child partner Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign backs up that connection with research showing that the simple act of feeding kids a healthy school breakfast has the potential for a dramatic impact on their academic, health, and economic futures.
In Ending Child Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis (PDF), a new report by Deloitte and the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices, data underscores the fact that federal programs like school breakfast are not only important in the fight to end childhood hunger, but also have potential long-term positive effects on academic achievement and job readiness. Deloitte analyzed publicly available data and academic research findings and found that, on average, students who eat school breakfast have been shown to achieve 17.5 percent higher scores on standardized math tests and attend 1.5 more days of school per year.
These effects have potential long-term economic benefits as well. Students who attend class more regularly, for example, are 20 percent more likely to graduate from high school. High school graduates typically earn $10,090 more per year and enjoy a 4 percent higher employment rate.
You can see the ripple effect. These factors can create transformative, positive change in the United States because a student who eats school breakfast is put on a path to do better in school, which leads to greater self-sufficiency after high school and, therefore, less likelihood that she will struggle with hunger during her lifetime.
As you know, the Common Core State Standards require schools and communities to better and more comprehensively support meaningful student learning. ASCD, in its Whole Child Policy Recommendations, notes that children don't learn as well if they are hungry or feel unsafe. Nor can they thrive if they are sick, destitute, or neglected. As we ask and expect more of our students, we need to step up to the plate and provide them with the support and nourishment that they need. One imperative way to do this is breakfast.
You can take action—here are three things that you can do:
- Add Your Community to The National School Breakfast Map: We're building a map that paints an unprecedented view of school breakfast programs across the country. Get more information and add your community at NoKidHungry.org/Breakfast.
- Join Team No Kid Hungry: You can help surround kids with healthy food where they live, learn, and play. Pledge to make No Kid Hungry a reality at NoKidHungry.org.
- Learn What Is Working on School Breakfast: The No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices offers a wide variety of information about the school breakfast program and how participation is being increased across the country. Learn more at BestPractices.NoKidHungry.org.
Kumar Chandran is a program manager with whole child partner Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices. 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 this nation by connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. You can help surround kids with the nutritious food they need where they live, learn, and play. Pledge to make No Kid Hungry a reality at NoKidHungry.org.