Hunger and learning
Food, more specifically nutrient-rich food, is necessary for a school-aged child to make the most of a formal education. Without this, children go hungry which can prevent students from making the most of a formal education. This can manifest itself in physical and psychological effects on young people that make learning substantially difficult.
Calories in food provide energy to carry out regular day-to-day activities. Without an adequate amount of this energy, students may fall asleep in school or lack the energy to pay attention to an entire day of classes.
The brain, like the lungs, heart, arms and legs, requires energy to function properly. Children experiencing hunger are more likely to have problems with memory and concentration because they do not have the energy to carry out these functions. Additionally, the brain develops rapidly at a young age. Without the right nutrients, the brain cannot develop properly, resulting in long term effects on learning abilities. (1)
Malnutrition makes children more susceptible to illnesses. Certain vitamins and minerals are needed to maintain a strong immune system, but, many times, poverty cuts off an individual’s access to these nutrients. Starving children get sick and cannot attend school. Because their immune systems are weak already, they cannot return to a healthier state for a while. Children cannot learn from an in-school education when they are absent for an extended period of time.
Studies from the American Psychological Association (2) reveal the psychological effects of hunger on education. Hunger has been observed to cause depression, anxiety and withdrawal, all of which are obstructions to a child trying to focus on education.
Hunger can also cause behavioural problems. In a classroom setting, a single child’s behaviour can affect the rest of the students, the teacher’s attention and the overall learning atmosphere. In this case, hunger not only disturbs the affected child’s learning, but the learning of others as well.
We, and the students, are working hard at Bethel to ensure that all the students receive one nutritious school meal a day while they are learning and you can help them too. Just £7 feeds one child for a month. That’s less than the cost of your average Christmas pudding. Which reminds me, please sign up to the Giving Machine (https://www.thegivingmachine.co.uk/causes/giving-africa/) before you do your shopping and whoever you shop at will donate a % of your shop to us - at no cost to you...
(1) Meyers and Chawla (2000) Nutrition and Social, Emotional and Cognitive Development of Infants and Young Children. http://main.zerotothree.org/site/DocServer/ZTT21-1_aug_sep_00.pdf?docID=7299