Research shows four in 10 teachers say pupils come to school hungry every day

Over half of teachers said they have given food they brought in from home to a child who came to school hungry
Research shows four in 10 teachers say pupils come to school hungry every day

Michael Bolton

Around 40 per cent of teachers in Ireland are seeing children arriving to school hungry every day, according to new research conducted by Kellogg Ireland, with 78 per cent of teachers saingy this happens at least once a week.

Over 200 teachers at primary and secondary level around the country were surveyed about their experiences of hungry children in their classroom, with more than half of them stating the number of hungry children in their class has increased over the past year.

Almost three quarters of them added that the issue has become more common in recent years.

When it comes to the impact of hunger on a child’s learning, nearly two thirds of teachers felt a lack of food can have a significant impact on a child’s educational progression.

Just over 7o per cent of teachers reported children being tired, while 67 per cent said hungry children find it much harder to concentrate in class. Children feeling low or sad, not contributing to class, and disruptive behaviour were also reported.

Time missed 

Teachers said they get worried and upset when they know a child in their class is hungry, with over half saying they have given a child food they brought in from home.

Around 84 per cent of teachers told researcher they have lost at least an hour of teaching to helping children who have arrived at school hungry, while a quarter said they lose an hour or more a day. On average, the study found teachers are losing nearly four hours weekly helping hungry students.

Over 1,000 families around the country were also surveyed as part of the research, which showed the increased cost of living is having a significant impact.

One in four families said they struggle to feed their family and, over the past year, 58 per cent said they used some form of credit more than they did before.

The survey also showed more people are seeking support from services, such as breakfast clubs or food banks, to help them manage the increasing cost of feeding their families.

Those who use a breakfast club are doing so more than they did in the past because of time pressures and the increasing cost of groceries.

The survey also revealed significant levels of shame associated with using food banks, with 63 per cent of people stating they would be too embarrassed to use one themselves.

Commenting on the study, Community Foundation Ireland's chief executive Denise Charlton said: “Families are struggling to meet the most basic needs. We know from our partners on the ground throughout the country that families face the stark choice between putting food on the table, school clothing or ensuring children have heat and light to do homework.

"Many of our 5,000 voluntary, community and charitable partners are struggling to meet the increased demands for help.

"Donors and supporters who share our mission of equality for all in thriving communities have a real part to play and can make a difference.

"We will continue to work with donors such as Kellogg to deliver practical supports to families facing very difficult household choices.”

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