Food can change the way kids learn and has a positive effect on their health and academic success. As principal at Maxfield Elementary School in St. Paul (where 98 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch), Nancy Stachel observes,
“Kids who are hungry don’t sleep well, and by noon they are acting out and quick to anger. They are less likely to concentrate, and over time that impacts achievement.”
Her observations are supported by The University of Minnesota Food Industry Center’s Cost/Benefit
Hunger Impact study that links hunger with child’s cognitive and physical development. Hunger costs Minnesotans between $1.2 – $1.6 billion annually in direct and indirect healthcare and education costs.
To battle hunger and promote learning, Maxfield Elementary partners with Second Harvest Heartland on hunger relief programs including a Target Meals for Minds mobile pantry that distributes groceries to families of students enrolled at the school and serving as a meal site for the Summer Food Service Program, a USDA program operated by the Minnesota Department of Education.
In Minneapolis, Bertrand Weber, Director of Culinary Services for Minneapolis Public Schools, took his hunger solution on the road. Using Community Close-Up research – developed through Hunger-Free Minnesota by The Boston Consulting Group – he identified high-need, low-resourced areas beyond walking distance to summer meal sites serving nearby high-need children. He then converted an old school bus into a food truck, made possible through a Summer Food Service Program grant from Second Harvest Heartland. The truck visited four new sites in those low-resourced areas on its daily summer route.
“Going mobile was the best way to reach kids who might be missing meals during the summer, and keep them energized and ready to learn again in the fall,” says Weber.
Number of meals the Meals for Minds mobile school pantry program has distributed at 11 schools in the Twin Cities since 2010. Meals for Minds, (supported through funding from Target) sets up grocery distribution sites at high-need elementary schools across the Twin Cities monthly during the school year for families of children enrolled at the school.
The cost to each Minnesota family of allowing people to go hungry, based on total health and education consequences inflicted when our neighbors miss meals.