Why Does It Matter?
Hunger can be an underlying cause of other issues like job performance or behavior problems at school.
Typically, people who experience hunger also struggle with employment, housing, and other aspects of health. When a family is facing these kind of challenges, nutrition and food costs are often seen as an adjustable expense. Many families will choose to eat less, buy cheaper (and often less healthy) food, or sometimes even go without food in order to pay for rent, utilities, and other necessities.
Children impacted by hunger may have difficulty concentrating in school and may have a greater risk of exhibiting behavioral issues. For some students, the meal they receive at school may be the only meal they get for the day. In addition, fast or unhealthy food may be the quickest, most inexpensive option for families which can lead to unhealthy habits and possibly to being overweight or obese.
Many students impacted by hunger often qualify for a free or reduced lunch, based on their family's income. Within the Omaha Public Schools, the largest school district in the area, 73% (38,527) of students received a free or reduced lunch during the 2015-16 school year which is up from 54% in 2002-2003. Of the eight districts in Pottawattamie County, 50% (7,533) of all students received a free or reduced lunch. In the largest district, Council Bluffs Community Schools, 64% (5,512) of students received a free or reduced lunch in the 2015-16 school year.