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The Surprising Reason Why Half of Low-Income Kids Aren't Eating Breakfast

The Short of It

A new report says half of low-income kids aren't eating breakfast, but it's not always because their families can't afford what many call "the most important meal of the day."

The Lowdown

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) says an alarming number of kids from low-income families are skipping their morning meal because they may feel ashamed to admit they need help.

A huge disparity exists between kids who receive free or reduced-price meals from the Department of Agriculture and those who eat them—21 million to just 11.2 million—according to The Huffington Post. The way school programs call attention to low-income kids by serving this early meal in the cafeteria may be to blame.

Programs that make it easier for kids to grab a to-go meal from a cart are showing promise. For example, 600 Los Angeles schools started a grab-and-go program, and since 2011, about 117,860 additional low-income children are eating the free breakfast. Similar programs are being tested in New York City.

The Upshot

One of the reasons it's so important for kids to eat first thing in the morning is its positive effect on their academic performance. The nonprofit group behind the grab-and-go breakfast program, Share Our Strength, says 9 out of 10 teachers equate eating this early meal with success in school.

After all, if you're hungry, how can you focus on learning?

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