Foodbank Australia, the country’s largest food relief organisation, released its Hunger in the Classroom report on Wednesday following a nationwide survey of 532 teachers.
The report found that on average, three students per classroom are regularly arriving hungry in the morning.
Government schools were shown to be three times more likely to see students coming to school without breakfast compared to non-Government schools, while the issue is worse in regional and rural areas (72%) than in our capital cities (63%).
Jason Hincks, Foodbank Australia’s chief executive officer, said the issue is affecting students’ long-term potential.
“Our Hunger in the Classroom report is a startling reminder of the importance of a nutritious breakfast for children and just how many are going without it,” Hincks told NEWS.com.au.
“It’s not just the students’ immediate needs that aren’t being met but, by missing invaluable time in the classroom or not being able to keep up with their peers, these students are less likely to fulfil their potential in the long-term.”
The report also highlighted the impact that hunger can have on students’ learning outcomes, revealing that more than two-thirds of students who miss out on breakfast can find it difficult to concentrate or can become lethargic.
Over half of those students were also shown to experience learning difficulties or exhibit behavioural problems.
Maria Packard, a spokesperson for the Dieticians Association of Australia, told NEWS.com.au the results of the survey were disturbing.
“We know that it is critical for your mental functioning, it influences how alert you can be, your concentration levels, it impacts your mood and your memory,” Packard said.
“Children’s brains require energy in the form of glucose and things like breakfast cereals, grainy breads, fruit and milk are some of the best foods you can give the in the mornings.”