Hunger in the Aussie Classroom - NFP Report
28 May 2015 at 12:29 pm
Two thirds of Australian teachers are seeing children come to school hungry, and more than a quarter are reporting the problem is getting worse, according to new research from one of the country’s largest food relief organisations, Foodbank Australia.
Foodbank’s Hunger in the Classroom report, a survey of teachers from across the nation on the state of hunger in schools, found that on average, three students per classroom are regularly arriving hungry in the morning.
The research 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 per cent) than in our capital cities (63 per cent).
According to the teachers surveyed, over two thirds of students who miss out on breakfast can find it difficult to concentrate (73 per cent) or can become lethargic (66 per cent), with over half experiencing learning difficulties (54 per cent) or exhibiting behavioural problems (52 per cent).
However, the report said it is not just the children themselves who are affected, with an overwhelming number of teachers (82 per cent) 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,” the report said.
Some 35 per cent of teachers also reported that students coming to school hungry or without breakfast are more likely to be late and 29 per cent report they are absent from school more frequently.
“The overwhelming consensus from teachers surveyed (95 per cent) is that coming to school hungry impacts students’ abilities to reach their full potential both in and outside of the classroom,” Foodbank Australia CEO Jason Hincks said.
“Our Hunger in the Classroom report is a startling reminder of the importance of a nutritious breakfast for children and just how many are not receiving one. 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.
“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.
“What many don’t realise is that investing in Australia’s school breakfast programs is also an investment into Australia’s future.
“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,” Hincks said.