For many Hoosier students, the school year has begun. With all of the excitement around the new school year and possibilities, noticing every students’ needs can be difficult to see. This fall, 1 in 6 Hoosier kids could struggle with hunger as they re-enter the classroom. 

This hunger impacts everything, including the ability to learn. Just like textbooks and pencils, food is an essential school supply. Healthy, consistent food access is important for children now because the negative impact can follow them throughout their lives. Research shows that children who struggle with hunger not only have a harder time learning but are more likely to struggle with chronic illnesses, mental health issues, and behavioral problems – even impacting their financial prosperity.  

Luckily, schools have one of the most powerful tools to combat childhood hunger at their disposal: nutritious meals. School nutrition programs play a massive role in supporting kids through school meals, pantries, and much more.  

And that food has many benefits: not only are kids getting their most nutritious meals of the day, they’re also eating on a regular schedule with their peers and trusted adults, like teachers and administrators. Beyond nutritional value, these meals also provide stability and a sense of community, which can help kids heal from the trauma they’ve faced since the beginning of the pandemic. This will help kids focus on the classroom and better allow schools to focus on building community and accelerating learning.  

Here in Indiana, school nutrition professionals and community organizations have been working tirelessly to feed kids since the beginning of the pandemic.  

To increase access to healthy meals during the summer, School Town of Highland implemented a Summer Food Service Program for their kiddos. Because of the school nutrition team’s hard work, over 31,000 nutritious meals were placed into student’s hands. 

In School City of Hammond, the school nutrition team implemented a custom Google Map. This map lets families know of the exact locations and times for their 12 curbside sites and multiple school bus stops within the community. School City of Hammond’s school nutrition professionals and transportation department teamwork paid off as over 86,000 map views increased students’ access to healthy meals. 

If your child needs free meals in Indiana, text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877 or visit Find Food Help for more. Follow No Kid Hungry Indiana on ways you can be part of the solution. Together we can help our next generation have a healthy, full life.