DEAR ABBY: I am a grandmother who volunteers in a third-grade class. Last week, a child I was reading to turned to me and said, "Grandma, have you ever been so hungry that you couldn't play at recess?" It broke my heart that an 8-year-old girl could get her brother and herself off to school, but not have food for breakfast.
Of course, our elementary school has a free breakfast program. The irony is that some parents would rather send their children to school hungry than sign them up.
Unfortunately, many children complain of hunger during the school day. My teachers and I have started a classroom pantry so we can provide a nutritious snack to any student who, because of hunger, struggles to read, solve an arithmetic problem or play actively on the school grounds.
Abby, please let parents know that their children need nourishment in the mornings. Most schools provide breakfast and lunch for free or at reduced rates. Being well-fed will help their children succeed in school. -- VOLUNTEER GRANDMA
DEAR GRANDMA: I'm pleased to print your letter. Everyone should know that breakfast has long been considered the most important meal of the day. Schools should remind parents that nutrition programs are offered to students who need them.
If parents fail to sign up their children for breakfasts or lunches out of some misguided sense of pride, the teacher or principal of the school should make sure the parents are aware of the importance of the program. If that fails, then child protective services should be informed of the plight of truly neglected children.