Child Hunger on the Rise and Causing Problems in the Classroom

Written by Alan Pyke

Three-quarters of America’s teachers have students who routinely show up to school hungry, and half say hunger is a serious problem in their classrooms, according to No Kid Hungry’s annual educator survey. The numbers represent a significant jump from last summer, when about three in five teachers surveyed routinely taught hungry kids.

The report also notes that free- and reduced-price breakfast programs are hugely under-enrolled. Twenty-one million kids eat school lunch, but just 11 million eat school breakfast. Previous research has shown that child hunger has a profound impact on educational achievement. Closing the school breakfast gap by just half would produce over 3 million kids with higher test scores and over 800,000 more high school graduates. Hungry kids are at far greater risk of emotional and psychological problems that undermine their education, are far more likely to drop out of high school and struggle to keep up with the cognitive development of their adequately-fed peers.

Yet Congressional Republicans have proposed cuts to the federal food stamps program that would exacerbate the hungry student problem. The initial $20.5 billion in cuts was predicted to boot 210,000 children from school meal programs that are tied to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the House GOP now plans to cut closer to $40 billion from the program after returning from summer recess.

Conservatives argue that private charities and individuals’ good will would bridge the gap left by government’s pullback from providing food assistance. However, even at current funding levels for public programs, No Kid Hungry found teachers already spend an average of $37 per month on food for their students and principals spend $59.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress.

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Chavonne Nicole
Chavonne N1 years ago

Why would you cut anything from the food stamp program when there are more struggling people/families than ever. This is ridiculous. No one should have to go hungry. This is 2016 and we're still dealing with this. I don't get it.

Shanti S.
S S4 years ago

Thank you.

GGma Sheila D.
GGmaSheila D4 years ago

From what I can tell, the Conservatives have No individual much for these "Good Christians" and their "family values."

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Jennifer Frederick

Usually students who eat breakfast perform better in school and find it easier to concentrate on a difficult task. Now there is a higher demand for more efficient and more intelligent workers in the job market. It seems that providing breakfast for students in school would be the best option for everyone.

Winn Adams
Winn A4 years ago

Well that's a no brainer. How does anyone expect kids to learn if they are hungry and don't know where their next meal is coming from?

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle4 years ago

And of course the answer to this is sequesters, cutting social programs, giving more money to the wealthy, keeping people at poverty wages, stagnating the minimum wage, increasing the tax burden on 99%, more tax write-offs for corporations, if you're a Republican.
A big FU if you don't fit in their world view.
Drive the nation down to level of a third world country and then blame the people for not being ambitious enough and heartless enough to put yourself first. You're still putting yourself first if you only consider your kind, the people you are comfortable with, first. But that's not America. America is supposed to be everyone. Not everyone is alike. Many of us need help and don't have access to the resources other people have. My family needed gov't help while I was growing up.
And that's not to say the Dem's can't be just as stupid and greedy. Just not as much.
We just celebrated the anniversary on the march on Washington. Heard all kinds of good things. Just way too little of dream of social and economic equality and justice. It's just as bad if not worse than racial inequality. Though social and economic oppression is worse for people of color it knows no race. When I learn about Repubs laws and actions I have to remind myself of my Christian faith because I start thinking unkind things about them because of what their policies do.

Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon4 years ago

When we had a local woman from the community running our school lunchroom, we not only had much better and more nutritious meals for the students, but when a student's family was late in paying the reduced meal fees she never prevented the child from having a meal.

When our school district board voted to go with a catering service (one of the largest providers of prison and school meals in the country) she lost her job for refusing to serve pizza and microwaved burritos every day for lunch. Iced "breakfast bars" became a staple of breakfast, replacing fresh fruit at that meal.

After the company took over, if a student's fees weren't up to date, the first unpaid day the student got a paper plate (not the divided plastic tray-plate-in-one everyone else had) with a peanut butter sandwich and a carton of milk. When kitchen staff and teachers complained, the company rep told us that they would prefer not to give a child anything if they hadn't been paid and only because the law required that no child go without any food at school they gave the sandwich...and they intentionally stigmatized the child with the paper plate to "encourage" the family to pay up. The new cafeteria supervisor was hired by the company, not the school, and she followed such children to be sure they didn't "sneak" any vegetables or fruit from the salad bar. In our district, this meant many dozens of children were effected by this policy.

Roxana Saez
Roxana Saez4 years ago

Thank you JL A for pointing that out. It is such a hypocrisy that schools kept telling us how essential breakfast was for us yet our school buses never made it in time for us to receive school breakfast. I am thankful that I always had food at home but there was a time when I qualified for and participated in the school lunch program even though both my parents worked (hard I may add). I was more concerned for some of my friends who I knew did not have that "luxury". As bad as not having enough food to eat is I think in some respects the feeling that people just don't care was worse.

Yvette S.
Yvette S4 years ago

Thanks for sharing