Hungry @ School

Just this week, I was interviewed for a Whole Hearted Parenting teleseminar. I was asked about kids in the US being hungry. I answered that I didn’t believe most kids were hungry in the US, but were eating nutrition-void foods. I said the result is pretty much the same as kids are nutritionally starving.

I was greatly mistaken!
According to a new survey, conducted by Lake Research Partners for Share Our Strength, indicates more than 60 percent of the teachers surveyed say the problem has increased in the past year.  The survey contains highlights of a public opinion survey of 638 kindergartens through eighth grade public school teachers in urban, suburban and rural communities nationwide.

Joshy wants to know…
Can you make a healthy breakfast, even if you can’t afford eggs, fruit, juice AND cereal?

I know a little about what it’s like to go to school hungry. Often there wasn’t anything for breakfast in my home when I was growing up. I dreaded the gym teacher’s nutrition talk. Enviably “THE breakfast” question would be asked. And to my horror, we would be asked to raise their hands when the item we ate for breakfast was named. Most likely, I didn’t eat breakfast at all. Somehow that wasn’t one of the options. I was hoping no one noticed.

Sixty-five percent of teachers say many children rely on school meals as their primary source of nutrition. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, breakfast is served to 11.6 million school children; 74 percent of the breakfasts are free and 8.8 percent are at reduced price. More than 40 percent of teachers say they believe it is a serious problem that children are coming to school hungry because they have not had enough to eat at home. In fact, 61 percent of teachers who perceive this problem purchase food for their classrooms out of their own pockets, spending an average of $25 a month.

Food Inflation
We are in the middle (not the end) of the Great Recession (really a depression). Purchasing food will only get more difficult as inflation increases during the balance of this year. I believe when families receive food stamps, a mandatory session on nutrition and how food stamps can actually feed the family should be required.

Food stamps are meant to be only supplemental to a family’s food budget. We know many times this isn’t the case and food stamps are the only resource for purchasing food. Unfortunately, food stamps often are used to purchase junk and processed foods. The way food stamps can feed a family is when expensive processed foods are avoided and families cook. (Sorry, there’s that four-letter word again…COOK.)

There is no reason a child should go to school without eating. Breakfast is the easiest and most economical meal of the day. Forget about boxed cereals, expensive breakfast sausages or anything which is to be microwaved or comes already prepared. These are budget (and nutrition) busters.

Inexpensive Healthy Breakfasts
Some inexpensive, yet healthy, options for breakfast are oatmeal (any whole grain makes a healthy breakfast, even brown rice), pancakes from scratch and toasted whole grain bread with nut butter. Whole grains are inexpensive nutritious meals. Make enough for several days and reheat on busy mornings. Brown rice keeps fresh for five days, even without refrigeration, covered on the counter. Add fruit, nuts, cinnamon, etc. for variety with whole grain cereal breakfasts.

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