09/16/2016 02:26 EDT | Updated 09/16/2016 02:26 EDT

I Have Witnessed The Realities Of Hunger In The Classroom

Catherine Delahaye via Getty Images
A 7 years old boy doing his homework

As school bells rang out across the country signalling the start of another school year, Canadians were once again reminded of the power, potential and importance of education.

But imagine starting the first day of school frustrated, tired and hungry. For the one in five Canadian children who go to school hungry and on an empty stomach because they don't have access to breakfast at home, that's their reality. The promise of a new academic year is clouded by hunger for far too many -- and that's simply unacceptable.

As the president and founder of Breakfast Club of Canada, I've personally seen the impact of hunger on children in need of a morning meal. The repercussions are heartbreaking. Missing breakfast negatively affects school performance, leading to missed lessons, poor behaviour and missed future opportunities. That's why for over 20 years, the club has fought to offer students the nutritious breakfast they need to reach their potential. We believe every student should go to school hungry for knowledge, not hungry for food.

Kids who regularly miss breakfast lose an average of 132 minutes of learning time every day. That's nearly five years!

The impact of missing breakfast on academic success is tangible. In fact, a recent survey of Canadian teachers commissioned by Kellogg Canada as part of the company's Breakfasts for Better Days hunger relief initiative, found that kids who regularly miss breakfast lose an average of 132 minutes of learning time every day. That's nearly five years of lost opportunities from kindergarten through Grade 12. Five years!

Teachers across Canada also identified significant behaviour issues that can be a consequence of missing breakfast. Eighty-six per cent said that students who come to school hungry are more likely than their peers to engage in peer-to-peer conflict such as bullying. And, three quarters agreed children who miss breakfast are more easily frustrated, angered, annoyed or irritated during class.

The study's results ring one message loud and clear -- a great day starts with a nutritious breakfast. Ninety-three per cent of teachers said students who eat breakfast achieve better academic success, with 93 per cent of those working in a school with a breakfast program said it delivered positive results. Furthermore, over two-thirds of teachers in schools without a breakfast program thought that starting a club would help students achieve their goals.

Every single day our Clubs across Canada feed 163,000 students in 1,455 schools, but that's not nearly enough -- the need is greater. There are still close to 500 elementary and high schools with hungry students on the wait list to have a breakfast club established in their schools. We need to work together to ensure that students are given all the tools they need to achieve their potential -- including breakfast.

The good news is that with the help of our longstanding partners at Kellogg Canada and their Breakfasts for Better Days program, we're one step closer to ensuring no child goes to school hungry.

To learn more about the reality of hunger in the classroom and Breakfast Club of Canada, visit

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