In the United States, children go to school hungry everyday. According to the USDA, more than 1 in 6 kids in the United States live in “food insecure” homes. While not a widely used term, the repercussions of food insecurity are widely felt as children from these households often have to worry about where they might get their next meal. Food insecurity can look like a lot of different things: it can be a parent skipping a meal so their kids have enough food for dinner, it’s having to choose between buying groceries and paying rent, or a completely empty pantry with no money to stock it. In 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau concluded that nearly 40 million people in the United States live below the federal poverty level – a number that accounts for approximately 12% of the country’s population – making it clear that hunger affects children of nearly every community.
No Kid Hungry, a national campaign to end childhood hunger in America, has been documenting this issue through detailed surveying. In their research, they’ve found that three out of four teachers in the U.S. see children who regularly come to school hungry because they are not getting enough food at home. And while approximately half of Americans see childhood hunger as an issue, only 7% of those surveyed believe it is a problem within their neighborhood, and it is precisely this misunderstanding that clouds the reality of the situation. Educators from all over see child hunger on a day to day basis and witness how it negatively impacts students’ academic performance, putting a ceiling on their potential futures before they’ve ever been given a fair shot. “Three in four teachers across America see students who regularly come to school hungry because they are not getting enough to eat at home, and for nearly half of these kids, it’s a daily occurrence,” said Betty Crocker, Director of Child Nutrition Services at Redlands Unified School District in California.
To further elucidate the misconceptions surrounding childhood hunger in the United States and to provide a roadmap for how to fix it, No Kid Hungry partnered with Mic to produce a series of infographics that demonstrate the disparities between how childhood hunger is perceived and the reality of food insecure households.
What’s going on?
While 50% of Americans say they believe there are children who regularly go to school hungry, only 7% of Americans say they personally know a child who goes to school hungry.
Measuring belief in the United States
In general, more Americans believe in the supernatural than say they know kids in their neighborhood go to school hungry. Thus, while 27% of Americans say that they believe in ghosts, only 7% say that they believe they know kids in their neighborhood go to school hungry.
Hunger begets a host of different problems
Educators who see students coming to school hungry describe a variety of problems that these students encounter, including an inability to concentrate (according to 88% of educators), tiredness (according to 82% of educators), and lacking energy or motivation (according to 87% of educators).
Hunger and academic performance
More than 9 out of 10 educators agree that having a good breakfast is critically important to academic achievement.
The benefits of breakfast
Teachers see better results when children have had a hearty breakfast, including sharper concentration (according to 93% of educators), better academic performance (according to 87% of educators), and overall a big boost in health (according to 76% of educators), attitude (according to 68% of educators), and well being (according to 74% of educators), which includes fewer headaches and stomachaches.
No Kid Hungry is making sure all kids have the fuel they need to reach their full potential by making breakfast part of the school day. “No Kid Hungry estimates there are about 3 million kids who need a healthy breakfast at school but aren’t getting one,” said Jill Davis, Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships at Share Our Strength. “School meals like breakfast have a powerful impact on hungry kids.” Studies show that grades and attendance rise when breakfast is served during the school day. It also creates a sense of community amongst students and makes life easier for parents who have a hard time getting their kids to school earlier. No Kid Hungry is proud to work with Kellogg’s, Citi, Amazon, General Mills and other partners to make sure kids are #PoweredbyBreakfast every day.
Learn more about how breakfast at school powers kids at PoweredByBreakfast.org.