THE principal of a Cork primary school described how some children have been taken out of class after showing visible signs of hunger.
The educator, who wished to remain anonymous, to protect the identities of the kids involved is calling for an end to the stigma around poverty. They added that no parent should feel obliged to hide their situation from their child's teacher.
After noticing that certain children were showing signs of hunger such as an inability to concentrate, the school involved came up with a solution to ensure that no pupil has to suffer in silence.
Now, teachers have become skilled at identifying the warning signs attached to hunger.
"Some of the smaller ones will tell us straight out that they are starving and there are others who will constantly ask when lunchtime is," the principal said.
They said that the system was devised as an alternative to their former breakfast club service.
"We can no longer have our breakfast club because that would mean mixing classes and they all have to be in their own little bubbles. However, this has been a really effective and discreet way that allows children in difficult situations time to bond and have some one-on-one time.
"We're not talking about the children whose families were in too much of a rush to have breakfast - even though we make sure they are all looked after too.
"If it's a child who needs the support they also need the company and the chat to bring them to a level where they are ready to learn. They know that there is someone there to mind and listen to them."
The principal described how some families continue to live day by day.
They urged anyone in this situation not to be afraid to ask for help.
"If you are experiencing poverty in your life it doesn't mean that you have done anything wrong. It just means that you have been unlucky in life. That's what we normally say to the parents that reach out to us.
"Years ago children living like this were encouraged to hide their situation as a result of shame.
"Things have changed now, however, so people shouldn't be afraid to speak up."