GUTHRIE - Teachers say it is heartbreaking and frustrating to watch kids in their classes struggling because they’re hungry, something educators say they see all too often.
A new survey from Share our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry Campaign” finds that, nationally, three out of every four teachers and principals regularly see hungry children in their schools. The principal at South Todd Elementary School in Guthrie, Kentucky, Camille Dillingham, said it’s sad to see.
“If they’re hungry they’re not going to be able to focus, they’re not going to be able to concentrate and be able to learn, so we’ve got to make sure their basic needs are met first,” she declared.
South Todd Elementary is part of a federal government pilot program. It now provides free breakfast and lunch to all 600 pupils (65 percent of them were already eligible for free or reduced-price lunches).
And, with the help of other agencies, the school has started a weekend food program because, Dillingham said, some children came to school Mondays very hungry.
“I talked with my cafeteria staff, and on Mondays they can tell a big difference in the amount of food the students eat and what they want, compared to later on in the week.”
On Fridays, those pupils are sent home with backpacks filled with non-perishable food. The report also said teachers and principals are spending more out of their own pockets to help hungry kids. On average, teachers who buy food for their pupils estimate they spend $37 a month, which amounts to more than $300 for the school year.