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Research shows hungry students can’t learn
“Hunger In Our Schools: Share Our Strength’s Teachers Report 2012,” was conducted among more than 1,000 K-8 public school teachers nationwide. Three out of five teachers surveyed report that they see students regularly come to school hungry because they’re not getting enough to eat at home. A majority of these teachers who witness hunger say the problem is getting worse.
Key findings from the research include the following:
- Childhood Hunger Remains A Serious Issue. Three out of five teachers say kids in their classrooms regularly come to school hungry. Among those teachers, 80% say these kids come to school hungry at least once a week. Three out of four teachers (77%) say addressing childhood hunger must be a national priority.
- The Problem Is Growing. A majority of teachers (56%) who witness childhood hunger say the problem is getting worse.
- School Meals Are A Critical Safety Net. In the survey, a majority of teachers (56%) say “a lot” or “most” of their students rely on school meals as their primary source of nutrition.
- Teachers Are Taking Action. Most commonly, teachers assist families in enrolling in school meal programs (71%), refer families to resources in the school (54%) and spend money out of their own pockets to buy food for hungry students (53%). On average, teachers who buy food for hungry kids in their classrooms spend on average $26 a month.
- Teachers Say: Breakfast Works. Nine out of 10 teachers say breakfast is very important for academic achievement. Teachers credit breakfast with increased concentration (95%), better academic performance (89%) and better behavior in the classroom (73%). Health is also a major factor, with eight in ten saying breakfast prevents head and stomachaches, leading to healthier students. Teachers also say that, thanks to breakfast, students are less likely to be tardy or absent (56%).
- Too Many Kids Miss Out On Breakfast: Teachers site timing and stigma as two barriers to participation. Some kids miss out on the meals because of they get to school too late to eat (74%). Others are embarrassed and don’t want to be singled out as the low-income kids eating in the cafeteria (33%). Teachers say that sometimes the problem simply is that parents aren’t aware the program exists (35%).
- Childhood Hunger Is Solvable: The most popular solution was to increase communication with parents about the school meals that are available (75%). Other ideas include reducing the red tape that limits participation (61%) and decreasing stigma by making free breakfast available to all students, not just those with low incomes (58%).
The survey is available at www.NoKidHungry.org/teachers.
Hunger in Maine (Source: USDA)
- Population: 1,328,361
- Food insecurity rate: 15.1 percent of households, or more than 200,000 people
- Maine ranks 17thin the nation and 1st in New England for food insecurity
- Child food insecurity rate: 24 percent, or nearly 1 in every 4 children, are food insecure (64,200 children)
- Maine ranks 18th in the nation, 1stin New England in terms of child food insecurity
- Senior food insecurity rate: 5.46 percent of seniors are food insecure
- Maine ranks 17thin the nation, 1st in New England in terms of senior food insecurity
- Food insecurity has increased by 50 percent over the past decade
Additional Facts About Poverty & Hunger
- Poverty rate in Maine: 12.6 percent (Source: Census Bureau)
- Child poverty rate in Maine: 19.3 percent (Source: Kids Count Report, Maine Children’s Alliance)
- Maine unemployment rate: 5.7 percent (April 2014, Source: ME Dept. of Labor)
- Food Stamps: Approximately 18 percent of Mainers are using food stamps (Jan. 2014, Source: USDA)
- 36 percent of Maine’s food insecure population makes too much to qualify for food stamps and must rely on the charity food assistance network (Source: Feeding America)
Hunger based on each Maine County