“Children who go hungry in kindergarten are noticeably behind their peers in reading and math by third grade. Hungry children suffer from hyperactivity, absenteeism, and generally do worse both socially and academically in school. They are more likely to need special assistance or repeat a grade. And some of them may never catch up.”
“Food insecurity in early childhood can limit a child’s cognitive and socio-emotional development, ultimately impairing school achievement and thus long-term productivity and economic potential. Data has shown that, by the third grade, children who had been food insecure in kindergarten saw a 13% drop in their reading and math test scores compared to their food-secure peers. Hungry children are also more likely than their non-hungry peers to suffer from hyperactivity, absenteeism, generally poor behavioral, and poor academic functioning.”
“Children who suffer from early food insecurity are also more likely to experience mental health issues through their adolescence and young adulthood. Preschoolers and school-aged children who experience hunger have higher rates of internalizing problems, such as anxiety. Elementary school children experiencing severe food insecurity are four times more likely than their peers to require mental health counseling; seven times more likely to be classified as clinically dysfunctional; and seven times more likely to get into fights frequently.”
Physical Appearance of a Food Insecure Child
- Puffy and swollen skin can be due to a protein deficiency
- A very thin child whose bones are starting to protrude may have a lack of protein and calories
- Redness around the lips and/or cracked lips
- Dry and itchy eyes can be a sign of a vitamin A deficiency
- Overweight – some obesity is caused from poor nutrition
School Performance/Behavior of a Food Insecure Child
- Excessive absences due to sickness or unexcused
- Hyperactive, aggressive, irritable, anxious, withdrawn, distressed, passive/aggressive
- Repetition of a grade
- Difficulty in forming friendships
- Sickness–sore throat, common cold, stomach ache, ear infection, fatigue
- Short attention span, inability to concentrate
Difficulty with several of these symptoms can seriously impact a child’s ability to learn and master educational material– handicapping them down the road.
Need additional help because you are experiencing food insecurity?
The Path of Citrus County created and maintains a resource guide of agencies and organizations that serve the citizens of Citrus County in a variety of ways. Inclusion in the guide does not necessarily imply endorsement by The Path. Most services are provided when funds are available. Call first!