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Classroom Health and Safety

Give All Students a Proper Start to Their Day With Free Breakfast

Photos: Courtesy of No Kid Hungry

Lisa Davis

Senior Director, No Kid Hungry campaign

Across the country, kids are heading back to school. While many kids — including my own — are sad to see summer end, for too many of our of nation’s children, back to school is more than new textbooks and teachers — it’s about the relief of getting access to school meals again.

Nourishing our students

One in six kids in America struggle with hunger, and, for many, school breakfast and lunch are a big part of the solution. Federal nutrition programs that already operate in schools can make sure kids have access to food when they need it, regardless of zip code, age, time of year or time of day.

That is really important. Research shows that students who eat breakfast score significantly higher on tests, miss fewer days of school and face fewer health problems related to hunger. Those improvements mean those kids are more likely to graduate and go on to create a stronger American workforce.

Fighting the stigma

But, unfortunately, barriers — like when and how school breakfast is served or stigma around needing it at all — are keeping too many kids from accessing it. As a result, millions of kids in need are starting the school day hungry. It doesn’t have to be this way. When schools make breakfast part of the school day, serving it once school starts instead of before, it reaches more of the kids who need it.

A new edition of No Kid Hungry’s Hunger In Our Schools report surveyed three groups on the front lines of childhood hunger — families, teachers and kids themselves — and found alarming statistics about the challenges for those facing hunger. Three out of four teachers, for example, say they see students regularly coming to school hungry.

Looking forward

But we’re working to change that. Thanks to the commitment of teachers, principals, parents and community leaders, along with No Kid Hungry’s national and local partners across the country, 3 million more kids are eating school breakfast since 2010.

That’s a big accomplishment, but there is much more work to be done.

So this fall, as we send our nation’s kids back to school, find out how your school serves breakfast. Make sure that all kids in your community have the access they need to school meals so that they can start the day happy, healthy and ready to learn.

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