The Black Eyed Peas frontman told STV that he would miss meals in order to travel at 5am to school in a "better" neighbourhood.
''Sometimes I would miss breakfast and when you're on food stamps and lunch tickets, missing breakfast is not good for a kid," he explained.
The singer and producer, who recently took part in a telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, added: ''There's a family of influences that dictate behaviour. In the ghetto, there's a liquor store, a cheque-cashing place and a motel.
"What that tells you psychologically is, get a cheque, cash it. Take a couple of steps. Buy some liquor and get drunk, go home and get kicked out of your house. And here's a place to sleep along the way.
''If you live in a good neighbourhood, you drive home and there's a bank. There's grocery stores and big houses - but no motels. What that tells you psychologically is you protect your money and buy good things for your family to eat in your nice big house. So it's a different system.''
A judge of the UK version of The Voice and a platinum-selling artist and producer, will.i.am revealed that his success allowed him to move his family out of their neighbourhood.
Watch the video for will.i.am's 'This Is Love' below: