As you may have seen on the blog this week were are talking about childhood hunger as I am taking part in the Breakfasts For Better Days Challenge. For the last 3 days I have skipped breakfast as part of the challenge, and I have to say the side effects have been harder to deal with then I would have thought. Stomach cramps, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and poor mood I have been through them all. It really makes me think about the 1 in 7 children who go to school hungry every day. I have several friends who are teachers and asked them if they had ever came across childhood hunger in their schools – sadly all answered yes, regardless of location and school size. Here are a couple of examples of what a hungry child looks like in the classroom
- Child A, 5 yrs old – this child seems chronically exhausted. The child is an affectionate, playful kid, but as the day goes on, a becomes weepy, more withdrawn, and often heads over to the reading corner, lies down and falls asleep. We have a healthy snack program so we are able to give this child a bit of an energy boost every day, and supplement that with other things like granola bars, fruit cups, crackers and cheese. But that just fills gaps to help them a get through the day.
- Child B, 6 yrs old – B suffers the effects of inadequate nutrition every afternoon. In gym class B complains of an upset stomach, has a very hard time keeping up with classmates, and becomes easily frustrated and asks to sit out. In other classes the upset stomach makes a daily appearance, and B often complains of being tired. Because b is so tired and feeling crummy, b can’t focus on school work. When asked questions the common answer is “I don’t know”.
- Child C, 12 yrs old – C is responsible for getting to school in the morning, C arrives late quite often, never eats breakfast and rarely brings a lunch. C doesn’t want to complain, so will try to hide the fact that they are hungry. C seems to fade as the day goes on – arriving tired as many teenagers do, but unable to shake the sleepiness as the day goes on. C just gets more and more tired as the day goes on, and has trouble focusing on school work, and has a hard time answering questions or holding a conversation.
From “M” a elementary school teacher:
When children are hungry, they can’t focus on anything else. Hunger is a such a basic need, when it’s not fulfilled, everything else is secondary. They have trouble remembering things, they make mistakes, they have a harder time regulating their emotions. Sometimes kids can’t pinpoint that what they are feeling is hunger. When asked “did you have breakfast today?” they will say “no” but when asked if they would like something to eat they say “no, I’m not hungry”. Our healthy snack program does help. It means that any child who wants to eat has the opportunity to do so, and because everyone in the school gets a snack, it removes the stigma of having to ask for something to eat.
The Kellogg’s Breakfasts for Better Days program works to support breakfast clubs across Canada. You can do your part by picking up a box of Kellogg’s cereal. For every box of cereal sold Kellogg Canada will donate a portion of proceeds to its breakfast partners across the country (up to$100,000).