New study finds there are more hungry kids in classrooms

Jonesboro, AR (KAIT) -- "I would say it is a problem nationwide," said Ann Brown.

Ann Brown is a social worker at Nettleton Public Schools. Brown says hunger is a  problem the Nettleton School District is doing its part to fight.

"What we've determined is children, if they come to school hungry, they're not able to pay attention, they may have behavioral problems, they may have physical symptoms," said Brown.

A new study shows that nationwide, teachers are seeing more hungry children in their classrooms.

"It interferes with their academic learning," said Brown.

Brown says through a partnership with the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas--the school is able to send enough food for the weekend home with students in need.

"We have seen the need grow over the past couple of years for the backpack program," said Brown.

"Almost 25 percent of the people that are served by our agency network are children," said Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas Executive Director, Christie Jordan.

Recently released figures show the food bank provides emergency food assistance to more than 5,100 different people in any given week, according to Jordan.

She says that's up nearly one thousand from the 2006 hunger study.  Not only is demand up for weekly assistance, Jordan says demand for some special programs is too.

"We have a waiting list for schools that would like to be enrolled in the backpack program.   As our budget will allow, we would love to be able to serve all of those schools," said Jordan.

For Ann Brown, she hopes the program will be able to grow as the need for program grows too.

"We feel like we're meeting the need as well as we can," said Brown.

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