Addressing Hunger in Schools
Students who are Hungry are also Distracted
On December 9, 2016, Hunger Free Oklahoma (HFO) submitted a letter to the State Department of Education regarding their request for comment on the Oklahoma draft State Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law in 2015 with bipartisan support in congress. It requires every state to submit a plan that ensures accountability in addressing the success of all children. Hunger Free Oklahoma used this comment request to highlight the importance of anti-hunger programs in schools and encourage the state to insert hunger specific language into the framework.
Specifically, HFO urged the state to consider how addressing hunger would help them achieve their stated goals of improved academic success, addressing the needs of low-performing schools by combining state and federal funds, and whole student success. HFO suggested four resources that have the potential to bring in an additional $17 million per year to Oklahoma schools for nutrition programs:
- Expanded School Breakfast and Lunch Programs through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)
- Increased adoption of Breakfast in the Classroom and Breakfast After the Bell models
- Increased participation in USDA’s Summer Meal Program
- Adoption and expansion of Afterschool Meal Programs in conjunction with afterschool activities
These programs not only address student hunger but make large strides in closing the “the achievement and opportunity gap” which is the focus of Oklahoma’s ESSA State Plan.