In America, 35 million people feel the effects of hunger every day, which researchers estimate costs the nation 90 billion dollars a year, mostly from illnesses, but also from lost education.
Throughout the year in 2003, 88.8 percent of U.S. households were food secure, essentially unchanged from 2002. The remaining 11.2 percent (12.6 million households) were food insecure. These households, at some time during the year, had difficulty providing enough food for all members due to a lack of resources.Furthermore:
hunger and obesity [can] coexist because many hungry families buy high-calorie foods that are low in nutrients. "They're dependent on foods that are going to make their bellies feel full, rather than on nutrients," Ms. Laraia said. "The diet is compromised."In another survey, people in America without enough food--often single mothers--reported causes included:
Most of those . . . who reported food shortages said the primary reasons were lack of money, food stamps or WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) vouchers; about 9 percent also blamed inadequate transportation.And it will surprise no one reading this blog to hear that Bush's 2006 budget proposals
changes in eligibility requirements [would have] resulted in a reduction in funding for food stamps by $500 million over the next five years, potentially removing an estimated 300,000 women and children from the roster of eligible recipients.From another article:
The Wall Street Journal, for example, recently published a series on the new face of poverty in the country. One of its most compelling stories was how a school in Tyler, Texas, started a backpack club so that poor children could take crackers and other foodstuffs home over the weekend. The club was started because school officials noticed how children would go into a "food panic," on Friday at lunch. They ate as much as they could - and came back to school breakfast on Monday and ate as if they hadn't eaten all weekend. As it turns out, they hadn't. More and more families are increasingly being forced to choose among buying food, affording health care or keeping a roof over their heads.In my local Walgreens, in a mostly white, increasingly hip part of town near some poorer areas, there is only one shelf that is locked behind a clear plexiglass sheet: the shelf that holds the powdered baby formula.
You can steal everything else except that.
How much of our "educational" problem has nothing to do with pedagogy?
Why do we focus so much energy on pedagogy, alone, when basic services like health (e.g., glasses for the estimated 50% of poor children who have vision problems) and nutrition might, by themselves, have a huge impact on learning?
Is there any way to alter the way Schools of Education frame the problems of "education"?
Let's conclude with an excerpt from a review of scientific studies (scroll down) showing the impact of hunger on children:
The research shows that youngsters from food insecure and hungry homes
have poorer overall health status: they are sick more often, much more likely to have ear infections, have higher rates of iron deficiency anemia, and are hospitalized more frequently. In short, going hungry makes kids sick. As a result, they miss more days of school and are less prepared to learn when they are able to attend, making the relationship between hunger, health and learning of far greater importance than we previously realized. Further exacerbating this interactive impairment of young bodies and minds are the emotional and behavioral impacts that accompany food insecurity and hunger. At-risk children are more likely to have poorer mental health, be withdrawn or socially disruptive, and suffer greater rates of behavioral disorders.