In America today, 1 in 6 kids faces hunger. Working with local partners across the country, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger by ensuring that kids get the food they need, like healthy breakfast at school and free meals during the summertime.

As the divide between the haves and the have-nots grows wider in America, too many children on the wrong side of the line are going without enough food, according to a new report from No Kid Hungry. The report – Hunger in Our Schools – breaks new ground in our understanding of hunger and poverty in the United States. Though many comprehensive studies examine and track larger trends, this report is the first to look directly at how children and their parents experience hunger.

No Kid Hungry’s research revealed that almost half (48%) of low-income parents say they can’t afford enough food for their kids each month. And almost a quarter (23%) say they’ve cut the size of their children’s meals because of lack of money.

“It’s living paycheck to paycheck, needing things that we have to go without,” said Teresa Lee Hardy, mother of eight.  “We can’t save up, can’t have dreams of buying a house or going on vacations. There’s nothing really to look forward to, just struggle every day.”

The new report, based on a series of surveys and focus groups of low-income parents and their children, shows that three out of every five children from low-income families (59%) have come to school hungry at some point in the last year. For 1 in 10 children, it happens regularly.

In addition to children and parents, No Kid Hungry surveyed teachers, principals and school staff, and they confirm this reality. Three out of four educators (74%) see students who regularly come to school hungry because they are not getting enough to eat at home. 43% of these see hungry students arrive nearly every day.

“My focus is different when I’m hungry,” said Don Corlley, age 16. “Of course I’m gonna be thinking about food.  I’m gonna be thinking about which one of my classmates got food, I’m gonna be thinking about which one of them might share their food.”

No child should go hungry in a generous nation with plenty of food. But effective programs already exist that could reach every kid. They’re funded by the federal government and run through local schools across the country.

“No Kid Hungry and other organizations have identified these programs as the solution to feeding every kid in America,” said Billy Shore, founder and CEO of No Kid Hungry. “We know that it works. We’ve seen the data, and – more importantly – we’ve seen the smiles on kids’ faces.”

A Problem We Know How to Solve

Together, these four school-based programs can feed every hungry child in America:

Breakfast after the bell:
When you make breakfast part of the regular school day – served to kids in class instead of in the cafeteria, early in the morning – you can reach a LOT more kids. Studies show that children from low-income families who eat school breakfast are significantly more likely to do well on tests and miss less school.

Free lunch:
Our oldest and most effective school meals program; more than half of low-income parents (52%) say their child relies on free or reduced-price school lunch every day. (Because the national school lunch program is so well-established, No Kid Hungry’s program work, grants and advocacy efforts are largely focused on the other three programs.)

After school meals:
Not every child needs a meal before they go home. But many do – 82% of teachers worry that their students may not have enough to eat at home. For those kids, an afternoon meals program at school makes a huge difference.

Summer meals:
Lots of kids depend on school meals – meals that disappear during the summer. Today, just 17% of children eligible for free summer meals are getting them. But more and more schools are opening their doors in the summer to provide free breakfast and lunch to all who need it.

“Having them eat breakfast and lunch at school is a lifesaver,” explained Hardy. “It saves a lot of food in the house. If I had to pack their lunch every day or pay for it … that would just be really a struggle for us.”

“We’re so thankful that they get to eat at school.”

About No Kid Hungry

No child should go hungry in America, but 1 in 5 kids will face hunger this year. Using proven, practical solutions, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger today by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. When we all work together, we can make sure kids get the healthy food they need.

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