Many Americans experience hunger and food insecurity.

In 2014, more than 48 million Americans lived in households that struggled against hunger in 2014, including 15.3 million children.

Missing meals and experiencing hunger impair children’s development and achievement.

Studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Pediatrics, and the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry document the negative effects of hunger on children’s academic performance and behavior in school.

  • Hungry children have lower math scores and are more likely to have to repeat a grade.
  • Children experiencing hunger are more likely to be hyperactive, absent and tardy, in addition to having behavioral and attention problems more often than other children.
  • Children with hunger are more likely to have repeated a grade, received special education services, or received mental health counseling than low-income children who do not experience hunger.

Breakfast plays a significant role in shaping the learning environment.

  • Eating breakfast at school helps children perform better. Numerous published studies show that academic achievement among students who eat school breakfast tends to improve, especially in vocabulary, math, and standardized tests.
  • Students who eat breakfast at school have better attendance and tend to behave better. In studies of school breakfast programs in Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, and Rhode Island, scientists found that students who eat breakfast at school have better attendance records, are less likely to be tardy, and exhibit fewer behavioral and psychological problems than students who do not eat breakfast at school.
  • Eating breakfast can improve children’s diets and may reduce their risk of obesity. Studies show that children who regularly eat breakfast have a better quality of nutrient intake and are less likely to be overweight or obese. In fact, regularly eating breakfast may serve as a safeguard against childhood obesity.