POMEROY — Children from what is being called “food insecure households” are likely to be behind in their academic development compared to their fellow food-secure peers.
That was a finding in a recent research project conducted by Frongillo, Jyoti and Jones. The study revealed that “food insecurity impairs academic development of young school-age children … that the lack of adequate food makes it difficult for them to achieve the same level of learning as their fellow food-secure peers.”
Another fact discovered in that research project was that in America (sometimes called the ‘Land of Plenty’), for one in every six people, hunger is a reality. Ohio was listed as one of nine states showing the highest rate of household food insecurity.
For several years now, schools have been working to raise the nutritional level of school lunches served to students. Many changes have been made with more fruits and vegetables being offered as a way of not only addressing the nutrition issue, but also the obesity problem so prevalent among school children.
A few years ago, free breakfast programs were started in some of the schools so that students wouldn’t have to start their school day off on an empty stomach.
This year, Meigs Elementary received funding to reinstate a snack program which was started several years ago and then discontinued when funding was not renewed.
For the current school year, Chrissy Musser, Meigs Local food service supervisor, was able to secure a federal $43,900 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grant. Students are now offered nutritious snacks between meals.
“The grant gives us another opportunity to nourish the largely impoverished students in our district and also gives us a chance to introduce foods that a child might not see at home,” said Musser. This year the students have enjoyed apples, bananas, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, tomatoes, broccoli, celery and spinach as an introduction to the program.
Their response, according to Musser, has been “overwhelmingly positive, and the kids are excited about trying some of the items.”
The finding of the research program, and the message it conveys is that insufficient nutrition puts not only the physical health but the educational development of children at risk contributing to their ability to learn.