Schools See It Every Day: Childhood Hunger and the Impact on Education
It is back to school time across Northwest North Carolina and children from Taylorsville to Traphill and from Statesville to Sandy Ridge are returning to classes for another year of learning and playing.
As kids clamor into their new classrooms, find their desks and settle in, we at Second Harvest reflect on the incredible and devoted work of teachers and school staff as they care for and teach our community’s children.
And—perhaps because it is our mission work or perhaps because we witness daily the need so significantly—we feel a special gratitude to the humble work of those in School Nutrition Services who carefully plan, prepare and serve school meals to children every day.
Nutrition is vital to every child’s education.
Studies show that missing meals and experiencing hunger impair children’s development and achievement; and teachers in Northwest North Carolina say they see hunger’s impact in the classroom. Evidence shows that children who are hungry are not able to focus, have low attentions spans, behavioral issues and are more likely to miss days of school. In short, good nutrition is critical to a child’s body and brain development.
The National School Lunch Program, a federally assisted meal program, was started in 1946 and the School Breakfast Program began in 1966 for “nutritionally needy” children. Children from families with incomes at or below 130% of the federal poverty level are eligible for free meals; families with incomes between 130% and 185% of the federal poverty level are eligible for reduced-priced meals.
As we look at our Northwest North Carolina schools, we see how incredibly important these meals are.
In nearly all of Second Harvest’s service area the majority of school children qualify for these meals and count on the nutrients they provide. See the chart below for county-by-county information about where you live.
However, schools cannot do this work alone. Second Harvest’s network of on-the-ground partner agencies, from food pantries to BackPack programs and school pantries, help Northwest North Carolina families keep food on their tables year round.
Second Harvest supports 112 BackPack programs, 20 school pantries, and 6 Kids Cafes in our region. Learn more here.