Hunger and Learning


by Tina Richins, 2013/14 GRuB School Student

How do you think food impacts my, or any child’s, learning in school? Does it even have an impact? Can food improve your grades? Your concentration? Your activity?

The answer to all three questions is yes. A child needs food every morning to have a successful day. When we don’t eat in the morning, our concentration is on our stomach, on the pain it feels. Without eating, our brain has no food to start on, therefore brain activity is low. According to a report by the Food Research and Action Center, behavior, test scores, attendance, attention, cognitive function, and memory all improved when eating breakfast.

I know that when I didn’t used to eat breakfast in the morning, I was really tired. My mind would just wander and I would start to doze off in class. My doctor told me that I NEED to eat breakfast every morning. Once I started to, I saw a huge change in my activity at school. I could pay attention. I didn’t have an ache in my stomach and I just felt more active.

What’s going on in our community around food?

All schools in the Olympia School District [as well as those in most other districts] have a free & reduced lunch program. Any low-income student has an opportunity to be a part of this program. They have the chance to get free breakfast and lunch. In the summer there is also a Summer Lunch Programsponsored by Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation, provided by OSPI and the USDA. Everyone 18 and under can enjoy a free lunch every weekday this summer.

What does GRuB do?

I was a part of the summer program at GRuB in 2013. After a long, hot week on the farm, all the crew members had a chance to bring home fresh food that we harvested. Also, every Tuesday and Thursday, we had Guest Chef meal. Guest Chefs are volunteers who come to GRuB and work with three different students/crew members to prepare a meal for the whole crew. During this time, we would learn how to use fresh vegetables from the GRuB Farm in different recipes. It was also an opportunity for most of us to learn how to cook in general.

During the school year, we were taught about how food can affect our learning. I never truly understood how food could affect my, or any child/kid/teenager’s learning. If your child isn’t eating breakfast in the morning, their whole day is seriously affected by it. Feeding your child or yourself in the morning is important. Give your child or yourself the advantage of having a healthy body and mind.