Learning on an empty stomach

The Palmetto state ranks 15th in the nation for households with children facing hardships.

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - The Palmetto state ranks 15th in the nation for households with children facing hardships.

In surveys from 2008 through 2012, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) found that 26.7% of households with children in South Carolina said they were unable to afford enough food.

Its a problem that can affect a child's mood, level of concentration, and their education.

"I know that when you're hungry, your concentration is not on math, it's not on science, it's getting something to eat," said Imogene Clark, the nutritionist for Richland School District One.

According to, one in five children in America goes to bed and wakes up in the morning hungry.

Two factors that have a significant contribution to that statistic are the lack of employment opportunities and the declining availability of public assistance.

"We're sensitive and we understand that there are some homes children will go home to where there is nothing else for them to have," said Clark.

Clark and Deborah Boone work with the district's homeless initiative. The goal of the program is help families having a tough time putting food on the table everyday.

"I don't think that it's that our families don't want their children to eat or have proper meals," said Deborah Boone.

Boone says she thinks it is a lack of knowledge of possible resources.

In Richland County School District One, a variety of services to ensure no child is hungry are offered to struggling parents.

The district offers free meals and meals that are reduced. Dinner is served during after school and extended programs.

"I know what it is like to be hungry at school. I know what it feels like, what it tastes like, what it looks like," said Clark.

A problem no child should have to face.