Thursday, June 07, 2007

Almost 16,000 Children Die in the World Every Day from Starvation

Hunger Facts: International

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.
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.


A. G. Rud said...

Hits the mark for me, Aaron. I have often thought that schools and colleges of education should team with researchers in nutrition and other areas. For me, at least, your post echoes what David Berliner and others say about the causes of failing or under performance in schooling. Do others know of ways in which schools and colleges of education are linked to researchers on nutrition, poverty, and so forth, outside of pedagogy?

Aaron Schutz said...

Berliner and Anyon and the few folks who are working on "full service schools". And I'm sure there are others. But the question here, for me, is institutional. How might schools of ed institutionally change what they focus on? I doubt it's possible, but it seems at least worth some thought.

I chatted a little about Berliner and Anyon earlier here:

A. G. Rud said...

Colleges like mine situated in MOO U land grants could do this kind of collaboration. That would be one way to go about it. But professors of education are not educated in nutrition and such. Can we get those specialists to branch out from their peanut studies in Africa to help reconceptualize schools? It might be worth a try.

Jane said...


My students get pretty riled up when I tell them about Richard Rothstein's work on how poor vision and dental care, asthma, lead paint, hunger, and illness all affect test scores, but that they, as teachers, will be the only ones held accountable when squinting, hungry children with toothaches don't do as well as hoped on high-stakes tests.

I don't know, though, whether they get riled up enough to get involved in policy issues, to write to their representatives, to advocate for social services in their schools.

They have to take a course in health education, but the course says little or nothing about what kids who can't afford nutritious food might do to stay healthy.

I'm hearing about a campaign in which various public figures are challenged to live on a food stamp budget for a week. Most can't do it.

How would that be for an assignment in an education course, for those students who themselves have no idea what it's like to be without food?

Thanks for this post. The image of formula under lock and key is going to stay with me for days.


Education and Class