Kellogg Canada: Hungry Students Losing Two Hours of Productivity Daily
As much as people know that the day’s most important meal is breakfast, many do not appreciate the significance of the morning meal with respect to a child’s learning ability.
In a recent poll by Kellogg Canada, many teachers reported noticing major differences between a child who has not had breakfast and one who has taken the morning meal. The survey shows that 93% of teachers have realized that hungry children are the most troublesome in class.
On average, estimations by teachers illustrate the fact that hungry children lose a maximum of two hours a day because of lack of productivity. This translates to four months lost in a school year. In addition, it means that a child who has studied up to grade twelve, missing breakfast every morning, has lost over four years of studies.
According to Paul Jones, a former principal/elementary school teacher and an interviewee at Radio Voice of the Toronto Raptor, the hunger issue is our collective problem. In his view, less productivity caused by hunger can result in learning problems for the entire class, since disruptive hungry students make teaching a difficult endeavor.
Jones believes everyone is responsible when it comes to making sure that children are ready to learn every morning. This is why breakfast clubs in schools are very important.
There are several school breakfast programs including Breakfast for Learning, Breakfast Club of Canada etc. Breakfast Club of Canada’s data shows that the problem is bigger than children who refuse to have a meal before going to school. 1/5 of children in Canada are at risk of getting to school on an empty stomach because of lacking access to nutritious foods, while in Indigenous communities, ½ of the children face this predicament.
As the interview goes on, Jones emphasizes that going to school having not eaten breakfast is like going for a run with running shoes that have loose shoelaces. He also says that there are not enough breakfast clubs, despite this service being essential to some kids.
In recent years, there has been a push by several groups such as the Coalition for Healthy School Food (CHSF), to pressure the federal government so that a countrywide school meal plan that will benefit children across Canada can begin. In fact, Canada is the only country among the G8 nations without such a food program.
CHSF recently formulated a proposal detailing the many healthy eating challenges faced by youth and how a food plan will eliminate these issues. According to Sasha McNicoll, the coordinator at CHSF, food programs in Canada serve very few children compared to the demand. This is because money allocated by territories/provinces is insufficient and therefore most children still do not have access to a healthy breakfast before going to school.
CHSF’s proposal paper shows that 1/3 of elementary school students and 2/3 of high school students lack access to a nutritious breakfast. Furthermore, students who do not consume breakfast regularly face bigger problems in the long run according to a study by Toronto District School Board. Among the many who fail to graduate, most are students who lacked breakfast many times, as they studied.
Whether students stay at a student residence or at home with their families, it is paramount that they get breakfast every day before their studies begin. McNicoll explains that providing breakfast for children will educate them about healthy eating, something that they can pursue for the rest of their lives.