Two thirds of Australian teachers (67%) are seeing children come to school hungry, with more than one in four (26%) reporting the problem is getting worse, according to new research from Foodbank Australia, the country’s largest food relief organisation.
Foodbank’s new Hunger in the Classroom report, a survey of teachers from across the nation on the state of hunger in schools, has found that on average, three students per classroom are regularly arriving hungry in the morning. The research has found that Government schools are three times more likely to see students coming to school without breakfast compared to non-Government schools, while the issue is worse in regional and rural areas (72%) than in our capital cities (63%).
According to the teachers surveyed, over two thirds of students who miss out on breakfast can find it difficult to concentrate (73%) or can become lethargic (66%), with over half experiencing learning difficulties (54%) or exhibiting behavioural problems (52%). However, it is not just the children themselves who are affected, with an overwhelming number of teachers (82%) claiming that their workload increases when they have hungry and distracted students in their classroom.
Teachers estimate that the average student loses more than 2 hours a day of learning time when they come to school hungry. On the basis of this happening once a week, the student loses in excess of a whole term of learning time over the course of a year.
35% of teachers also report that students coming to school hungry or without breakfast are more likely to be late and 29% report they are absent from school more frequently. The overwhelming consensus from teachers surveyed (95%) is that coming to school hungry impacts students’ abilities to reach their full potential both in and outside of the classroom.
Jason Hincks, Chief Executive Officer, Foodbank Australia, says, “Our Hunger in the Classroom report is a startling reminder of the importance of a nutritious breakfast for children and just how many are going without it. It’s not just the students’ immediate needs that aren’t being met but, by missing invaluable time in the classroom or not being able to keep up with their peers, these students are less likely to fulfil their potential in the long-term.”
With the support of the food industry, including key partner Kellogg’s, Foodbank is the largest provider of food to school children supporting more than 1,000 schools to provide breakfasts to 67,500 students around the country.
Janine Brooker, Senior Brand Manager for Kellogg Australia, says, “The report findings shows exactly why Kellogg’s continues to support Foodbank’s initiatives in schools. Our long-standing partnership with Foodbank has seen millions of serves of cereal donated, as well as the opening of 33 new Foodbank School Breakfast Program clubs nationally this year. As a mum, I’m proud of our ongoing commitment in the fight against hunger and to support the health and wellbeing of students across Australia.”
According to the Hunger in the Classroom report, schools providing breakfast to students with Foodbank’s support overwhelmingly believe this contributes to student physical (97%) and mental (91%) health. They also report that it impacts positively to student relations with staff (83%) and the broader community (70%).
“What many don’t realise is that investing in Australia’s school breakfast programs is also an investment into Australia’s future,” says Hincks “Every kilogram of food going to the 137,290 breakfasts given to Aussie children each week via a school breakfast program provides a long-term social return of $110 in terms of improved physical health and school performance.”
Red Agency on behalf of Foodbank
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