Addressing childhood hunger will enable children to perform better academically

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Dear Editor, 

At Tuesday’s Northern Virginia gubernatorial debate, candidates will lay out plans to voters in the Commonwealth. According to recent Monmouth University polling data, jobs, the economy and education are some of the most frequently mentioned issues important to Virginia voters. Addressing childhood hunger will enable our children to perform better academically, compete for better jobs, grow our economy and provide a more secure future for older Virginians.

Nearly two-thirds of low-income parents in the U.S. say a single unplanned expense would make it difficult to feed their families, a new report from Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign finds. Research shows that hunger has serious consequences for children, including lower test scores, weaker attendance rates, and higher risk of hospitalization and chronic diseases. Other studies show that adults who experienced hunger as a child may not be as well prepared physically, mentally, emotionally or socially for the workforce.

Nutrition programs like Breakfast After the Bell, an initiative championed by First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, increase access to school breakfast by bringing breakfast out of the cafeteria and into the classroom and have a significant impact on test scores, classroom behavior and the future success of students.

This year, Virginia was one of the top 10 states with the biggest growth in breakfast programs. Ending childhood hunger isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also the smart thing to do. When kids consistently get the nutrition they need, they feel better, learn more, and grow up stronger. And that means a smarter, healthier, more productive Virginia.

Senator Barbara Favola (D-31)