An alarming report reveals that more and more children are going to school hungry, which is impeding their health, development, and ability to learn. In a society where educators’ responsibilities tend to extend much farther than the confines of the classroom, one has to wonder, are our school administrations and policymakers doing enough to fight childhood hunger?

According to a report issued earlier this year by the No Kid Hungry organization, the collective observations of teachers and principals is that routinely, students are “too hungry to learn.” The organization surveyed more than 1,000 teachers and principals around the country, and found that 73% of teachers said they regularly instruct students who don’t have enough to eat at home. 87% of surveyed principals agreed, explaining that they consistently see hungry students in school.

school cafeteria

Many students miss meals because they don’t want to miss out on opportunities to socialize with peers.
Image: Shutterstock

One way to curb hunger is to increase free or reduced-price school breakfast programs, but as the report details, even this solution comes with complications. As Rebecca Klein for The Huffington Post explains, “many students do not partake in breakfast programs due to ‘barriers such as late bus schedules, conflicting priorities, and stigma associated with eating in the cafeteria while other kids socialize,’” of the report’s findings. With all of these complications in mind, it seems as though only one thing is certain: it will take the cooperation of school administrations, teachers, and parents to support their students and fight hunger together.

Happily, organizations like Feeding America understand how challenging it can be for a community to fight hunger, especially one with a large number of economically disadvantaged families. Programs such as the School Pantry Program and the BackPack Program address childhood hunger head on, fully understanding the implications of students being hungry while in school. Having access to resources provided by nonprofit foundations like Feeding America might be a teacher’s or school administration’s best defense against hunger.

What do you think? Are our schools doing enough to fight childhood hunger? How much personal responsibility lies in the hands of our country’s teachers?