Yours HumanlyAugust 21, 2018
Nourishment: An Essential School Supply
We are all aware that there are children in less-developed countries who struggle to find consistent sources of food and suffer from malnutrition. However, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine that children in our own country, even in our own schools, share these same struggles. According to reports by No Kid Hungry, a campaign run by the non-profit Share Our Strength, “more than 13 million children in the United States live in “food insecure” homes.” No Kid Hungry defines these “food insecure” homes as homes in which children do not have a regular or reliable source for daily food. There is, however, one place where children can rely on a meal — school. Schools nourish children’s minds, and in many cases, are also the main source of nourishment for their bodies. Many children belonging to low-income houses receive free or reduced-cost breakfasts and lunches during the school year. Which is crucial, as Angie Rodgers, President of the Association of Arizona Food Banks, states “for some kids, the meals they get during the school day are the only reliable meals they’ll get all day.”
Our schools are capable of providing these meals per a stipulation by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), that requires schools to serve meals at no charge to children whose household income is at or below 130 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines; and/or entitlement to pay a reduced rate if their household income is above 130 percent but at or below 185 percent of these guidelines. (See here for the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines,) The USDA Food and Nutrition Service goes on to explain that “children are automatically eligible for free school meals if their household receives food stamps, benefits under the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations or, in most cases, benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.” Without such programs, many children right here in the U.S. would not be able to meet their most basic needs, let alone be able to focus on their education.
An article written by Jaimie Seaton and published in The Washington Post highlighted a Deloitte study that showed us exactly how crucial a healthy breakfast is for a student. In their 2013 study for No Kid Hungry, Deloitte found that the children who had reliable access to breakfast ended up scoring 17.5 percent higher on standardized math tests than those who did not have the same privilege. Seaton’s piece went on to quote Lucy Melcher, the director of advocacy and government relations for the nonprofit Share Our Strength, as characterizing “food as a basic school supply, akin to textbooks and pencils.” Melcher continues to explain that “kids who go to school hungry may suffer an inability to concentrate and often fall behind academically.” Keeping children in school is vitally important to their overall growth. Schools are a safe place where children can depend on the meals they need in order to fuel their learning and livelihood.
In order for children to take advantage of these meals provided by their school, they must actually attend school. This can be easier said than done for underprivileged children. At Yours Humanly, we believe that education is the key to a brighter future, but we also understand that a growling stomach can make it difficult to focus on learning. In order to encourage student enrollment in less-privileged countries, Yours Humanly provides K-12 scholarships. Through these scholarships, we cover all basic essentials for students served by Yours Humanly, from the time of enrollment through 12th-grade graduation. As a part of our scholarship program, we work with schools to ensure that children receive one to two meals a day. In some cases, these meals can even become incentives for children to attend school because they know that, when they are in school, their stomachs will not rumble.
Knowing they have a reliable place for a meal will not only help keep the bellies of students everywhere full, but it will help children see school as a safe and supportive place. Yours Humanly strives to strengthen these positive associations for education in countries all over the world. Here in the United States, we work with local schools to help provide the resources necessary for students to thrive. Although many schools have seen the positive impact of government food programs, schools that we work with express that, still, not all children have access to enough of the nutritional food they need to flourish. At Yours Humanly, we connect these schools with local organizations that specialize in fulfilling their specific needs. Connecting these schools with the proper organizations ensure that, as long as children are attending school, they will not go hungry. Although the ringing of the final bell signals freedom for most kids, it can also signal the end of consistent meals for many others. By keeping children in school, we are providing them with all the supplies they need to succeed.