One of my friends, a first year teacher in the School District of Philadelphia, shared that her budget for supplies for her classes is .75 cents per student…for the entire school year. That means, if she sees 350 students over the course of the year in her art classes, she will have about $260 to spend on materials. Some American families spend that much (or more) on back to school supplies just for the children in their homes.
If you think that’s bad, look at these results of a survey administered by No Kid Hungry of more than 1,000 K-8 teachers in public schools in America:
- 3 out of 5 teachers say they have children in their classrooms who regularly come to school hungry.
- 4 out of 5 of those teachers say these children come to school hungry at least once a week.
- A majority of teachers who see hunger as a problem believe the problem is growing.
Working in out of school time programs with a non-profit that is partnered with the school district for nearly a decade, I have met the children that this survey refers to. My colleagues and I have purchased food for students in our after-school programs. We’ve packed leftover meals from our summer camp and sent them home with campers who were brave enough to ask if they could take food from the “share” table to give to their siblings, but embarrassed to have to ask in the first place. One of my teen interns, the oldest child in a family of 8, would regularly take leftover milk home. She was always so thankful for the dozen or so containers of milk she’d get, and talked about how much of a blessing it was, since that was money that her mom could spend on other things…like transportation to and from her job at a fast food restaurant.
At the programs where we relied on the school district to provide lunches, there was much less left over. In fact, this is one of the “meals” that was provided for one of our middle school camps this summer:
|A school district “lunch”. The last meal of the day for some students.|
For many of our students, the lunch and afternoon snack that we provided was their final meal of the day, so the Site Coordinator and Counselors bought more food to make sure the kids had enough to eat. This happens very often in classrooms, too. No Kid Hungry found that more than half of the teachers surveyed had purchased food for hungry children in their classes, and 1 in 10 of them bought food every week.
This is an epidemic. When children are hungry, they aren’t able to concentrate in class. They have headaches and stomachaches, and they suffer academically. Then comes the behavior challenges that leads to the cycle of poverty continuing because they aren’t able to get the education they need in order to succeed. No Kid Hungry is working to end childhood hunger in America, and they need our help. Here’s what they need us to do:
- View & share the No Kid Hungry / Hunger in Our Schools infographic
- Help protect funding for effective nutrition programs
- Download the Hunger in Our Schools report
Can you imagine sending your child to school without breakfast? Without lunch? Let’s make sure all children have the same opportunities as our own, and work together to eliminate hunger in our schools.