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Teacher Survey Reveals Hunger's Toll on Students

PHOTO: A national survey finds three of four teachers and principals say they regularly see kids hungry at school. Photo credit: Share Our Strength
PHOTO: A national survey finds three of four teachers and principals say they regularly see kids hungry at school. Photo credit: Share Our Strength
August 28, 2013

BALTIMORE - As Maryland students return to school this week, many teachers predict they'll see a major barrier to student progress - hunger - again this year.

Three of four teachers and principals regularly see hungry students in their schools, according to a new nationwide survey from Share our Strength's "No Kid Hungry Campaign."

Tisha Edwards, interim chief executive for Baltimore City Schools, said hunger keeps too many children from learning.

"There are times when children are complaining of having headaches or stomach aches, or quite frankly, just being irritable," she said.

Even though free breakfast is offered before school starts in Baltimore, Edwards said many children miss it in the morning rush. She said she's looking for ways to increase student participation, possibly by providing breakfast in the classroom.

For Edwards, making sure children are fed is not just the right thing to do, it's an investment in the future.

"This isn't just about reducing hunger and reducing poverty," she said, "but having access to a nutritional meal, we believe strongly, is a lever to increasing student achievement."

The report found that teachers and principals are spending more out of their own pockets to help hungry kids. On average, teachers who buy food for their students estimate they spend $37 a month or more than $300 per school year.

The survey is online at nokidhungry.org/back-to-school.

Alison Burns, Public News Service - MD