Community college tends to be much more accessible for many students who would otherwise struggle to pay for a quality post-secondary education. 65% of the student body at SMCC is considered low-income. According to the No Kid Hungry Initiative, 60% of K-8 teachers report that their students come to school hungry one or more times a week.
The primary reason for such a high percentage that teachers report is: lack of accesses to food, lack of someone to prepare the food, both of which are common struggles of those from a lower socioeconomic status.
Eating breakfast has a direct correlation to academic success. The effects of skipping meals (especially breakfast) are the inability to concentrate, poor academic performance, headache, stomachache, and lowered impulse control. The free and reduced lunch program makes food accessible to countless children that otherwise would go hungry.
Why can’t we have a free or reduced breakfast program for the 65% of students that struggle financially at SMCC?
It seems reasonable for every student who qualifies for a Federal Pell Grant to also be eligible for a free or reduced breakfasts and lunches, as that is one of the Federal Department of Education’s definitions of “low income.” It seems absurd to ignore these facts.
The students of SMCC regularly attend class without eating. Most of us wear multiple hats in a day and satisfy multiple roles. We worry about feeding our children, catching the bus, paying our ever-increasing Portland rent, new tires, gas money, finding professional clothes for an interview, paying for the babysitter, before we even cracked a book.
It’s not hard to understand why we skip breakfast. It seems to me that the above mentioned lack of access to food, and lack of the ability or time to prepare food is a problem that extends far beyond K-8.
Why can’t we improve the academic performance at SMCC by initiating a Community College Free or Reduced Breakfast and Lunch program?