This is based on 2018 information.
Here’s the Hampton School Board Meeting discussing this policy on June 6, 2017
“It hurts my heart to know that children and families are being punished for living under poverty by withholding basic necessities such as food. Yes we know kids do better in school when fed, but beyond that, they have a right to life, which includes the right to eat.” -Cameron
In 2018, to qualify for free school breakfast and lunch a child’s family had to be at or below 130% the Federal Poverty Line. To qualify for reduced breakfast and lunch a child’s family had to be at or below 185% of the poverty line. This means families between 185% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Line did not qualify for assistance even though we know that this income range is still considered to be economically disadvantaged.
According to the Kids Count Data Center with Voices for Virginia’s Children, roughly 50% of kids in Hampton and Newport News are economically disadvantaged – that’s enough to fill 713 school buses!! This means they live in families with an annual income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Line. To be considered economically disadvantaged means to be struggling to make basic ends meet like housing, transportation, and food. So, 1 out of every 2 kids in our community live in families that experience difficulty making ends meet, but they do not all qualify for the existing programs intended to offer relief.
Unpaid school meal debt, then, is not an issue of families being negligent or lazy, it as an issue about continued unmet needs in our community. No child nor family should be punished for their financial situation especially when it comes to a basic necessity like food.
We also already know that hunger negatively impacts academic and behavioral outcomes for our kids. Hunger can impact a child’s….
Physical growth and development
Ability to learn and retain information
Imagine how you feel when you’re hungry and how difficult it is to concentrate or how irritable you become. Now magnify that times 10 when you are a child wholly dependent on others for your next meal. It is simply unfair.
We must protect the financial stability of our families and our communities and not allow unpaid meal debts to continue to be a threat. Join us in our efforts to raise awareness and raise funds to help our children and our community.
“There is no way for a child to thrive developmentally while they are battling hunger. There is no way for a child to thrive academically while they are battling hunger. There is no way for a child to thrive socially or behaviorally while they are battling hunger. Through The Care Project, we are fighting for more than just food, we are fighting for the well-being, success, and ultimately our children’s future. Join us in this fight today to end Childhood Hunger here in Hampton Roads.” -Semora
Childhood hunger stunts academic development. The American Psychology Association describes the negative effects of hunger related toxic stress:
- Children are unable to focus and learn in class.
- Children are more likely to be disruptive and develop anxiety, stress, and depression
Helping end childhood hunger supports the intellectual growth of students which greatly affects their later academic careers and success as citizens.