Educational Impact

The detrimental effects of insufficient food consumption on educational attainment have been well documented.  Nutrition and child development research has found that when a child is inadequately fed, their cognitive functioning, energy levels and classroom behaviour deteriorate, resulting in poor academic performance.[1]  This is of particular concern given that New Zealand has one of the highest levels of inequality in educational outcomes of all OECD countries.[2]  While the reasons for educational underachievement are mutlifactorial, addressing children’s food insecurity at school is an important step towards ensuring New Zealand has an educated, well-informed and functioning citizenry.

[1] Katherine Alaimo, Christine M. Olson and Edward A. Frongillo, “Food Insufficiency and American School-Aged Children’s Cognitive, Academic and Psychosocial Development,” Pediatrics 108, no. 1 (2001); Michael Nelson, “Childhood Nutrition and Poverty,” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 59, no. 2 (2000); Nevin S. Scrimshaw, “Malnutrition, Brain Development, Learning and Behaviour,” Nutrition Research 18, no. 2 (1988).

[2] OECD, PISA 2009 Results: Overcoming Social Background – Equity in Learning Opportunities and Outcomes Volume II (Paris: OECD Publishing, 2010).