How does Hunger Affect Learning?

Hunger and LearningAccording to the United States Department of Agriculture, hunger is “a physiological state of discomfort resulting from a chronic shortage of food intake. While it is no surprise that hunger is a major problem in this country, some of the facts surrounding hunger could still shock you. Currently, over 40% of the nation’s population is living below the poverty line, with about 546,000 of those residing in the state of Maryland. What is even scarier about these numbers is that about 13 million of the nation’s children are currently experiencing or at risk of experiencing hunger. While some may not think that hunger can affect learning, children are left vulnerable to several disadvantages when they suffer from hunger.

Hunger is known to be linked to a number of ailments including physical weakness, pain, disease, and even death. When it comes to hunger affecting learning, there are three main areas that are affected in a child. These three areas are physical, social, and cognitive.

  1. Physical- Children who are faced with hunger are typically underweight and shorter in height when compared to the national average. This is due to the lack of nutrients and vitamins that children require to grow and develop properly. Children faced with hunger also fall ill more often than other children. Illness will keep the child home more often from class, making it difficult to learn and keep up with their classes.
  2. Social- Children who are faced with hunger often feel ashamed and embarrassed of their situation. These negative feelings and lack of self-worth could lead children to become isolated from their peers. They are also more likely to make negative behavioral decisions in social settings, such as bullying.
  3. Cognitive- Children who suffer from hunger are more vulnerable to developing a number of learning disabilities along with other impairments cognitively. The lack of energy from the lack of nutrition makes it difficult for children to focus and succeed.


My Brother’s Keeper is as strong as our support. Our meal programs are based on community need as well as the grants available to us at the time. As our staff continues to work towards helping the community, outside help by way of donations and volunteers are always welcome! Become a part of something great and help make MBK where hope finds a home.

To learn more about how to help, or to find out more about our services including our meal programs, call MBK today at 410-644-3194.

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