School Pantries Giving Kids a Chance to Succeed | Maryland Food Bank
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School Pantries Giving Kids a Chance to Succeed

Most people agree that hunger has a direct impact on a child’s health and physical development, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that the effects of hunger go far beyond that. Over the last decade, researchers have become increasingly focused on the relationship between food insecurity and academic performance—and studies have overwhelmingly shown that hungry kids are more likely to struggle in school.

And it’s not just a matter of statistics. Schools partnering with the Maryland Food Bank have told us the same thing, over and over.

“What happens is they’ll just shut down,” explained Jeanette Gaither, guidance counselor at Sharp Leadenhall Elementary. “And they’ll even tell you outright they’re hungry, and you can see it impacting their learning, their behavior.”

The problem is: disrupted learning creates a downward spiral in which students fall further and further behind. Self-esteem is impacted. Kids stop trying. Their grades begin failing.

Studies have shown that food-insecure students are at a higher risk of dropping out of high school, and, according to a report by Columbia University, high school dropouts earn $260,000 less over a career than high school graduates.

The cycle continues as these individuals struggle to support their families with low-paying jobs, just as their parents before them. Without intervention, their children and their children’s children may well meet the same fate.

But there is hope. With government funding for the school meals programs and the Maryland Food Bank’s School Pantry programs, children who don’t have food at home are now getting the nutrition they need right from their schools. What’s more, through the School Pantry program, many children are able to bring food home to their families at the end of the day.

“This program is so valuable to us,” said Gaither. “I really believe one of the reasons kids come to school is that they know that they can get food here if they need it.”

6 thoughts on “School Pantries Giving Kids a Chance to Succeed

  1. I have a senior that brings food home at times and I would like to volunteer wherever is needed in helping our children stay better nurished so they can do better in school. Thank You, contact number ; 443-449-5302.

    1. Hi Darlene, thanks for reaching out to us! My best suggestion would be to reach out to your kid’s school to see if they need help with their school pantry. It’s great to get feedback parents who are aware of the connection between a child’s nourishment and their success in school. Thanks for your commitment and support!

  2. I saw a building on Red Brach Road that sayes Maryland Food Bank. What do they do there and are there volunteer opportunities there.

    1. Hi Geri! Do you mean Red Branch Road? We do have a network partner there—a pantry called Bridgeway Community Cupboard, located at 9189 Red Branch Rd. If you’re interested in volunteering there you can visit their website for hours and contact information. Thanks for reaching out! We appreciate the support, and I know Bridgeway will too!

  3. Clear and to-the-point article on the impact of hunger and school performance. One emphasis I think is important is that the Food Bank and Food Pantries find a way of teaching good nutrition and motivate families to have good eating habits. this is an upward battle with fast food commericials and fast food cheaply and readily available. Often a mom will spend money on buying a soda and fries for a meal, or donuts and punch for breakfast. I know the Food Bank is aware of the need for education among at-risk families, and it is a tough row to hoe to be effective! Keep up the good work and mission!

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