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Three kids in every classroom arrive at school hungry: Survey

2/06/2015

This story has been republished with permission from news.com.au. By Lauren Wilson, Social Affairs Writer,
News Corp Australia Network

 

Every day, in every Australian classroom, three kids on average arrive at school hungry.

A worrying new survey by relief organisation Foodbank Australia reveals classroom teachers are increasingly concerned their students are skipping breakfast, leaving them unable to properly concentrate on lessons and more likely to be disruptive.
Two thirds of classroom teachers say a handful of their students habitually come to school hungry, with around three kids in every classroom estimated to have skipped breakfast on any typical school day.
The problem is worse in public than private schools and more likely to happen in the country.
The consequences of children coming to school without a nutritious breakfast are significant, with teachers estimating students are losing more than two hours of learning time every time they come to school hungry.

The results are disturbing

Maria Packard from the Dieticians Association of Australia said the results of the survey were disturbing. She said breakfast was the most important meal of the day, especially for children.
“We know that it is critical for your mental functioning, it influences how alert you can be, your concentration levels, it impacts your mood and your memory,” Ms Packard said.
“Children’s brains require energy in the form of glucose and things like breakfast cereals, grainy breads, fruit and milk are some of the best foods you can give them in the mornings,” she said.
The Foodbank survey, of more than 500 primary and secondary teachers across the country by Galaxy Research, revealed hunger rates are higher among public school children than their private school counterparts.
Students were also more likely to come to school without breakfast if they lived in regional and rural areas rather than capital cities.

Poor behaviour

Teachers reported three quarters of the children who came to school hungry struggled to concentrate, and more than half experienced learning difficulties and exhibited behavioural problems.
Jason Hincks the chief executive of Foodbank, which currently runs a breakfast program in more than 1000 schools across the country, said the benefits of providing children with a solid meal to begin the day with were substantial.
“We do see a broad range of impacts from our school breakfast program, for kids who get a nutritious breakfast it increases their concentration and their performance in the classroom, they spend more time at school and it does create an opportunity for teachers to engage with students in that extended learning environment,” he said.
Mr Hincks said there were another 1000 Australian schools which he believed would benefit considerably from Foodbank’s breakfast programs.

 

Do you make sure your kids have a good breakfast before school?