How fond are you of dealing with grumpy, growing kids? Let’s face it, sometimes the same students you serve can also be a real pain.
When dealing with a severe lack of food, your beloved students can even quickly turn into outright monsters. This phenomenon is known as being “hangry” – a lethal combination of becoming both hungry and angry. Untreated, the effects of
This phenomenon is known as being “hangry” – a lethal combination of becoming both hungry and angry. Untreated, the effects of hanger could be devastating to a child’s health and your very own mental stability.

What is Hanger?
Simple sugars, amino acids, and free fatty acids are essential for energy. These are derived from the consumption of carbs, proteins, and fats. Once digested, these nutrients pass into your bloodstream to be distributed to your tissues and organs. When meals are skipped, essential nutrients circulating in your bloodstream begin to drop.
I think we can all agree that your brain is pretty important. It also has a critical dependency on glucose to get the job done. If blood-glucose levels fall enough, your brain starts to perceive this as a “life-threatening” situation. Low glucose can also wreak havoc on hormones, such as stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol, which are released to counteract the lack of glucose.
Some scientists have speculated that hanger stems from an evolutionary survival method of our species. Being prone to anger while hungry could have been beneficial by motivating early humans to seek out nourishment to eliminate the negative feelings associated with being hangry.
Hanger Pains
Students who skip breakfast are more than twice as likely to become annoyed or frustrated in the classroom. Further research has also found that 91% of those who skip breakfast feel hungry in class. Most children are well-aware of the importance of consuming fruits and vegetables every day, but many are unaware of other core food groups and why the first meal of the day is so important.
Side Effects
Below is are the symptoms your hangry student might be experiencing:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Slower recall
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Diminished academic performance
  • Emotional and behavioral difficulties
  • Issues with aggression and anxiousness
  • Difficulty getting along with other kids
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased illness, with a longer recovery time, accompanied with increased absence and tardiness

I’m sure we are all familiar with our parents preaching about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. Research confirms that breakfast is crucial for children’s health, academic achievement, cognitive development and mental health. Similar studies have unlocked the key to combating hangry kids – and it’s as simple as serving breakfast in the classroom. Looks like our parents were right after all…
Less than half of kids who are eligible for free or reduced breakfast are actually eating it. Schools nationwide are realizing the importance making hangry kids happy to increase their behavior and learning in the classroom. Some schools have taken advantage of offering free breakfast in the classroom, which also increases participation significantly.
If you’re worried that eating breakfast in the classroom may interfere with education, try planning activities during this time such as reading aloud, presentations, story-telling, homework or test reviews, classroom guests and puzzles or riddles. Morning activities mixed with mealtime is the most successful form of treating symptoms of hanger.
Now get out there and do your part to leave no child hangry!