There is a load of anecdotal information about the link between school feeding and better performance in class. Teachers, parents and administrators can attest to the fact that kids who eat properly in the morning and during the day are better able to focus on their work.
Now, there’s also solid research from a Quebec-based study published this week in the scholarly journal, Pediatrics.
The researchers looked at high school students in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and found that “household food insecurity”—basically not knowing where your next meal is going to come from—was strongly linked to academic difficulty in school. It’s partly because we all need food to make our bodies and brains work properly, and partly because the stress of food insecurity can make it hard to care about studying for algebra or trig or anything else.
But for the kids who received food in school, the effect was reversed. They scored better in language testing, were less likely to be held back, and even rated their own performance higher.
Basically, school food programs can help break the cycle of poverty.
It’s a message that most developed countries (and many in the developing world) have heard loud and clear. It was Canadian researchers who produced this study—when will the Canadian government take heed?