The scholarly research findings summarized in this document provide our nation with a comprehensive picture of the exceptional value of the school breakfast program. The study found that children from homes without sufficient food have a poorer overall health status than do children from similar backgrounds who have enough to eat. Children who experience hunger get sick more often, are more likely to have ear infections, experience iron deficiency anemia and get hospitalized more frequently. They miss more days of school and are far less likely to be able to learn when they do attend classes. When children fail to get sufficient dietary energy, particularly in the mornings, their cognitive capacity is impaired: their brains do not have sufficient fuel for attention, concentration and learning. This interactive relationship between sufficient nourishment and brain function also extends to the emotional and behavioral health of children. Youngsters who do not get enough to eat have poorer mental health; they are more likely to be withdrawn and inattentive. They also exhibit more disruptive behaviors and disciplinary disorders, require more counseling and other mental health services, and are more likely to need other special educational services.
Brown, J. L., Beardslee, W. H., & Prothrow-Stith, D. (2008). Impact of school breakfast on children’s health and learning: An analysis of the scientific research. United States: Sodexo Foundation. http://us.stop-hunger.org/files/live/sites/stophunger-us/files/HungerPdf/Impact%20of%20School%20Breakfast%20Study_tcm150-212606.pdf