65% of Teachers See Hunger in Classroom; Problem Has Increased in Past Year

February 22, 2011

Hunger in Our Schools: Share Our Strength’s Teachers Report Finds Connecting Kids to Breakfast is Vital for Academic Achievement

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Two-thirds of teachers across the U.S. say they have children in their classrooms who regularly come to school too hungry to learn because they are not getting enough to eat at home, according to a national new survey released today. More than 60% of the teachers surveyed for Hunger in Our Schools: Share Our Strength’s Teachers Report say that the problem has increased in the past year, and many find that breakfast programs are a key link to a students’ ability to succeed academically.

The survey, conducted by Lake Research Partners, contains highlights of a public opinion survey of 638 kindergarten through eighth grade public school teachers in urban, suburban and rural communities nationwide. The study reveals that 65% of teachers report that most or a lot of their students rely on school meals as their primary source of nutrition. This reliance is widespread geographically, but particularly strong in urban and rural areas.

More than 40% of teachers say they believe it is a serious problem that children are coming to school hungry because they have not had enough to eat at home. In fact, 61% of teachers who perceive this problem purchase food for their classrooms out of their own pockets, spending an average of $25 a month.

“I’ve had lots of students come to school – not just one or two – who put their heads down and cry because they haven’t eaten since lunch yesterday,” said Stacey Frakes, an elementary teacher at Greenville Elementary School in Madison County, FL.

However, teachers are nearly unanimously (98%) in agreement that there is a strong connection between eating a healthy breakfast and a student’s ability to concentrate, behave well and perform academically.

Share Our Strength, the leading non-profit organization ending childhood hunger in America by 2015 through their No Kid Hungry(TM) campaigns, will be supporting innovative breakfast initiatives in 2011 through $525,000 in grants. These grants will focus on promoting alternative breakfast models – such as breakfast in the classroom, grab-n-go breakfast, and second chance breakfast (breakfast after 1st period). These programs have already proven successful in increasing the number of kids who eat breakfast at school. The Share Our Strength breakfast grants are made possible by generous support from Weight Watchers and their Lose for Good® campaign.

“No child should be hungry at school. We have national programs in place, like school breakfast, that are there to serve children in need. We need to let more families know their children are eligible for these meal programs and help them overcome the barriers that prevent full enrollment,” said Bill Shore, founder and executive director of Share Our Strength.

“A hungry student has trouble concentrating and learning. Teachers do what they can to care for and teach kids, but we can’t do this alone,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “We welcome this collaborative effort with teachers, school districts and communities to ensure that all students receive nutritious meals, access to adequate healthcare, and other services they need to grow and succeed in school.”

The Teachers Report was made possible by C&S Wholesale Grocers. “C&S is committed to children and making sure they have the nutritious food they need to thrive. This report illustrates the disturbing challenges that children – and teachers – face every day in our classrooms,” said Gina Goff, Director of Director of Community Involvement at C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. “We are proud to support Share Our Strength and their work to find long-term, systematic solutions to ending childhood hunger in America by 2015.”

The survey is available at www.strength.org/teachers.

Share Our Strength

Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit, is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Through its No Kid Hungry Campaign(TM)–a national effort to end childhood hunger in America by 2015–Share Our Strength ensures children in need are enrolled in federal nutrition programs, invests in community organizations fighting hunger, teaches families how to cook healthy meals on a budget, and builds public-private partnerships to end hunger, both nationally and at the state level. Visit Strength.org to get involved in the No Kid Hungry Campaign.

American Federation of Teachers

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.

CONTACT: Dave Slater 202-649-4332 dslater@strength.org

Theresa Burton 202-478-6522 tburton@strength.org

SOURCE Share Our Strength

Source: newswire

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