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How Hunger Effects Children and Learning

     There is not a person alive that is not familiar with a grumbling stomach reminding you that you are hungry. For some, perhaps the morning was a bit too hectic for breakfast, maybe that lunchtime meeting ran long, or you were simply too tired to eat after your (meal-less) flight arrived late.

It happens we all go without food from time to time. Now imagine you that you are a child, trying to learn in school, experiencing chronic food scarcity, and hungry more often than not. This is the daily reality of many impoverished children in Haiti.

A study by Loyola University New Orleans’ Twomey Center for Peace through Justice found that, “hunger keeps children out of school and limits their ability to concentrate once there. At school age (5 to 17 years old) hunger keeps children from making the most of opportunities to learn and develop their minds… [When] children make it to classrooms, they cannot concentrate on lessons if they are hungry.”

Additional studies corroborate the negative effects of hunger on a child’s development, as outlined on

- Iron deficiency and anemia lead to shortened attention span, irritability, fatigue, and difficulty with concentration. Consequently, anemic children tend to do poorly on vocabulary, reading, and other tests.

- Several studies have found effects of hunger and poor nutrition on cognitive ability, including fourth grade students with the least protein intake in their diets having the lowest achievement scores.

- A laboratory study that involved healthy, well-nourished school-aged children found a negative effect of morning fasting on cognitive performance.

New Life for Haiti began with the notion to help the people of the Grande Anse River Valley, and, to achieve that goal, we’ve supplied farmers with seed after terrible hurricane floods, and rebuilt many homes after the 2010 earthquake. We’ve also built several schools. Fairly early in our involvement in the region, we realized that it didn’t make sense to simply supply education, when the students were too hungry to be able to concentrate.

We began the food program to serve meals at the local schools that we’d been working with, to get all the local children to come to the school. Initially, it was necessary to determine the cost of the program, as well as understanding the logistics involved in serving food to the community—how much help we would need to employ, amounts of food to serve, and how to cook it.

We first ran a pilot program, and the outcome was successful. Pending adequate financial support, we decided that we could feed the students at least once a week. Seeing how beneficial the program has been, we’re now working to supply food two or three times a week.

In the area where we work the average family lives on less than $1 a day, and only 20 percent of the children can afford to attend school, so we continue to build schools and try to help young people grow up with greater economic opportunity. Our child sponsorship program is another way our donors to help children whose families cannot afford to send them to school, and, in addition to education, sponsored children receive food, vitamins, clothing, books and school supplies.

To learn more about New Life for Haiti’s work, to donate, and to sponsor a child, visit

Article Source:

Article Source: New Life for Haiti

Posted on 2014-06-05, By: *

* Click on the author's name to view their profile and articles!!!

Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author.

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