According to a new Scholastic report, 61 percent of Georgia’s public school teachers say students come to class hungry throughout the year.
The study says chronic hunger can interfere with learning. Another recent study connects the timing of food stamps to a decline in school performance.
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U.S. Agriculture Secretary and former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue addressed the issue last summer when speaking to school nutritionists in Atlanta.
“Hungry children cannot learn,” Perdue said.
Most schools participate in a federally subsidized meals program. That can ease hunger in the short term. However, Michael Haggen, Scholastic’s chief academic officer, says finding a long-term solution may require schools to think differently.
“If you look at what’s happening in our schools, especially in the DeKalb County area, we have less and less social services supporting our schools and families,” Haggen says. “So, that means we have to do more partnering.”
That can include reaching out to parents and community organizations and supporting teachers by offering professional development, Haggen says.
“When a child comes to school, the teacher can think differently on why they may be performing lower, and how can we manage it?” he says.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the statistic on student hunger from the Scholastic report. The report stated that 61 percent of Georgia public school teachers say students come to class hungry throughout the year.