Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
It’s tough to reason with my kids when they’re hungry. They can’t focus, and they melt down fast. This is what I was thinking last week when I attended a press briefing by Share Our Strength, the hunger organization that founded the No Kid Hungry campaign. No Kid Hungry, along with Deloitte, just released a study with some alarming facts about our country’s school breakfast program. Did you know that 21 million low-income children around the country eat a free (or reduced-price) lunch–but only about 11 million of those same kids eat school breakfast? And yet they come to their classroom each morning famished, and because of that, they may also be exhausted, irritable, anxious, and easily distracted. Makes you really feel for the students themselves, not to mention the teachers whose jobs are that much harder in those circumstances. Which leads me to another disturbing stat: More than 60 percent of K-8 public school teachers said they had children in their classrooms who regularly came to school hungry because there wasn’t enough to eat at home.
No Kid Hungry has among its supporters the actor Jeff Bridges, who has been fighting to end hunger for 30 years, in large part through his own organization, End Hunger Network. At last week’s event he posed this question: “We have to look into our own souls. What are we willing to do that’s not just a gesture that’ll scratch the guilt itch?”
Here’s one answer. The No Kid Hungry campaign has determined that lots more eligible kids can get school breakfast if the meal is offered in even slightly creative ways, like in the classroom itself instead of a cafeteria. (This reduces the shame some children feel when they have to leave the room to go get their food.) So, with funding from Deloitte, No Kid Hungry has created a crowdsourced online map that outlines how schools around the country serve breakfast. The more complete the map, the more ideas are shared, and the more likely it is that schools will find ways to give kids the meals they so desperately need.
And this is where you can come in. This week–in honor of National School Breakfast Week–you can call a school (or two or three), ask up to three simple questions about school breakfast, and report the findings directly into the map. I called the elementary school my older daughter will be attending next year, which I learned does not serve school breakfast. (Only about 13 percent of schools don’t, according to No Kid Hungry.) Now that’s reflected on the map. You’ll be walked through the process at NoKidHungry.org/Breakfast. It won’t take long–but it will make a big difference. The goal is to have info about 10,000 schools by March 31. Will you make a call today?