KANSAS CITY, Mo. - About 125,000 kids in the Kansas City area go to bed hungry, not knowing where their next meal will come from. When they go to school in the morning, learning will be difficult.
School districts all over the metro are doing what they can to fight hunger.
At Hickman Mills schools, many students are served three meals a day.
What used to be the lunch line at Ingles Elementary is now the supper line too.
“Tonight we’re having a low-fat turkey hot dog on whole grain bun, they get a fruit and a vegetable and a low fat dairy,” explained Leah Schmidt, Director of Nutrition for the district.
At 4 p.m., students in the after school program know dinner will be served.
According to Schmidt, almost every student (95 percent) at the school qualifies for free or reduced meals.
“The students are getting subsidized meals at lunch and breakfast,” she said. “And, so, it just helps extend a family's [resources] that are on a limited income.”
It’s simple: A meal served at school saves parents from having to scrape together a meal at home.
Teachers in Kansas City, Kan., are seeing that system work, too.
A new program at 13 KCK schools feeds every child breakfast inside the classroom instead of in a cafeteria. That way, no one has to be singled out.
Banneker Elementary Principal Angela Wright told 41 Action News the program makes everyone feel equal and also builds community.
“Everyone comes in the morning. They get to eat breakfast. Those students that used to pay for breakfast, they don’t have to pay anymore,” she said.
Hunger or poor nutrition can be hard to diagnose, according to Pediatrician Dr. Scott Dattel.
“Patients will come in with things like weakness, dizziness, maybe some digestive issues like diarrhea," he explained.
Then, a child will lose weight, he said.
If hunger or poor nutrition isn’t caught quickly, a whole range of underdevelopment issues can persist.
“They need that protein and fat for brain development. It either develops or it doesn't develop. Obviously, if it doesn't develop normally, you're going to have intellectual problems later," he explained.
Residents in the Kansas City area have a unique avenue to help the hungry this week. To learn all about Fill the Fridge, an effort put on by KSHB, Harvesters and area Price Choppers, visit www.kshb.com/FillTheFridge.
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