United Press International recently drew attention to a study examining food scarcity and its impact on school readiness and performance. The study used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study--Birth Cohort and analyzed 3,700 low-income households with data on food insecurity and children's outcomes. The study showed children with food insecurity in early childhood were more likely to be less prepared to start kindergarten compared to children from food secure households. "Timing of food insecurity matters," Anna Johnson, an assistant professor of psychology at Georgetown, said in a press release. "In our study, food insecurity in infancy and toddlerhood predicted lower cognitive and social-emotional skills in kindergarten, skills that can predict later success in academics and life."
From the GLR Towards Bigger Outcomes monograph: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 15.8 million U.S. households — encompassing 13 million children — experience food insecurity at times during the year; that is, they lack adequate access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life. Families living with food insecurity often avoid hunger by eating more easily available, less-expensive and filling foods that are less healthy, which undermines children’s nutrition.
The Towards Bigger Outcomes monograph presents information, not just on food security, but the overall health determinants of a child and how it all combines to impact school readiness and success.