No Kid Hungry

Teachers say they regularly bend school rules to give extra food to kids who are hungry, and many cited universal and/or in-classroom breakfast and lunch as critical sources of nutrition for kids who would otherwise go without.

A growing number of teachers and ESPs are witnessing hunger among their students. You may have seen the signs:

children having difficulty with math and language skills; acting aggressively, feeling anxious or having trouble concentrating; having slower memory recall; frequently missing school or arriving late; and underperforming.

 

student leaning on blackboadOur members are often the first responders to students who are thinking less about the day's lesson and more about where they will get their next meal. Sometimes something as basic as breakfast or a snack can dramatically improve a child's success in school. Educators say hunger has become a growing threat that's havng an overwhelming impact on their student's ability to learn.

 

"That any child in America comes to school too hungry to learn is a travesty," AFT president Randi Weingarten says. "We must find ways to make sure that all eligible students have access to nutritious food programs, such as free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch in school; and afterschool, weekend and summer programs when out of school." She notes that nearly two-thirds of the teachers surveyed reported spending their own money to buy food for students.

 

Students' performance is affected by factors inside and outside the classroom, Weingarten says. "Student hunger is one of those 'outside the classroom' problems that could be addressed in part by community schools that become not only centers for education but also places where students and their families can access a variety of social and public services and information," she says.

 

The economy is continuing to take its toll on schools and school employees. Members have reported on layoffs, reduced hours and heavier workloads, along with budget cuts and threats of outsourcing. With poverty on the rise and more and more families are finding it difficult to make ends meet, the AFT has partnered with Share Our Strength (SOS), a Washington-based anti-hunger organization, on a national effort to end childhood hunger.

 

In a previous SOS survey of teachers, more than 60 percent of the respondents said they see children coming to school hungry because they're not getting enough to eat at home, and many students rely on school meals for their primary source of nutrition. The survey also indicated that teachers are filling the gaps. Elementary teachers reported spending an average of $27 a month to buy snacks and other food items for their students; for middle school teachers, the average was $38.

 

 

This pledge is for people who believe they can make a difference in tackling a huge obstacle facing our nation's children.

 

After taking the pledge, AFT members will receive e-mail updates about the No Kid Hungry campaign. The AFT will follow up with strategies on how our local unions can become even more effective in helping end childhood hunger in their communities. The campaign will provide additional opportunities for AFT members to learn more about child hunger and to connect with other activists in their own neighborhoods.

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