Effective education can only take place on a full stomach

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

One South Dakota student boasted to cooks at his elementary school that his sister is “the best cook ever” because she made ketchup soup for him the night before.

Gay Anderson, president of the School Nutrition Association, told the Patch online news service that situations like the one she described above are common in every community across America.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 11.8 percent of American households, or 40 million people, experienced hunger in 2017.

While they happen in every state, the worst are new Mexico, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina and Maine.

While much of the focus for learning problems has been on attention deficit hyperactive disorder, sometimes the problem is much simpler.

Hungry kids can be lightheaded and lethargic, and definitely not ready to learn.

That doesn’t mean nothing is being done, by both institutions and individuals.

The McCook Public Schools will release details about a summer food program, and the McCook Pantry feeds hundreds through generous donations of businesses and individuals. Memorial United Methodist Church offers regular community meals, open to all, and a small ministry offers cooking classes for young students.

We regularly report on Mobile Pantry events, provided through the Food Bank for the Heartland in Omaha, and response to Northeast Nebraska’s flooding shows just how generous people are when their neighbors are in need.

But some 13 million American people are considered food insecure, others are on the verge of going hungry.

According to a 2017 report provided by No Kid Hungry, a project of the nonprofit group Share Our Strength two-thirds of low-income parents said a single, unplanned expense of $1,500 would make it hard for them to feed their children. Some 92% of them are from working families, where at least one adult worked full-time, part-time or held multiple jobs.

-- 62% worried food would run out faster than money came in to pay for it.

-- 59% said food they bought didn’t last and there wasn’t money for more

-- 23% said they had limited the size of a child’s meal because there wasn’t enough money for food.

Admittedly, some households face hunger because of poor decisions made by the adults in charge, and education must begin with them before the children can benefit.

And, housesholds need adequate income to provide the stability children need to learn and grow, thus the importance of a growing economy to provide the jobs needed to provide that income.

But any effort to deliver education can only be successful if adequate nutrition is provided in advance.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: