Students Speak Out

Hunger and Obesity

Understanding Hunger and Obesity and the Role for School-Based Health Care

School-based health centers can be a critical partner in addressing hunger and obesity in their schools. They can provide leadership in working with food service, administrators, staff and students to assure students have access to healthy food in school, including in vending machines. Moreover, school-based health centers can provide leadership in advocating for policies in the community, and with state and national policymakers to assuage hunger and curb the spiraling trend towards obesity for the 43 million1 people who live in poverty, including 17 million2 food vulnerable children. More often than not, these are the same children who attend schools with the lowest graduation rates, half of them found in the nation’s poorest neighborhoods. 3


  1. U.S. Census. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: Report 2009. Poverty in the United States. 2009;22.
  2. Food Research and Action Center. Hunger data. http://frac.org/reports-and-resources/hunger-data/. Accessed April 2011
  3. Balfanz R. What We Can Do to Build A Graduation Nation: Making High Poverty Secondary Schools Engines for Advancement. AFT Teach conference 2011 powerpoint. http://www.every1graduates.org/component/k2/item/127-what-we-can-do-to-build-a-graduation-nation-making-high-poverty-secondary-schools-engines-for-advancement.html. 7/11/11. Accessed 8/12/11
  4. Dunkle MC, Nash MA. (1991) Beyond the Health Room. Resource Center on Educational Equity. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.