Of the 813 schools that are eligible for MMFA, only 271 schools participate in the program due to a lack of funding in the state's budget. Because school breakfasts for low-income children are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maryland Hunger Solutions estimates that low participation also means that the state missed out on nearly $15 million in federal reimbursements during the 2010-2011 school year.
"The Maryland Meals for Achievement program not only helps the children who are coming to school hungry," said Principal Bill Goodman of Meade Middle School in Anne Arundel County. "It fosters a sense of community in the school with the students starting the day off in a safe and nurturing environment. We are also seeing fewer tardies and nurse visits in the morning."
A study by Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital showed that schools that participate in MMFA saw a 5 percent increase in Maryland School Performance Assessment Program Composite Index scores, a 36 percent decrease in suspension length and a breakfast participation rate of 72% (versus a statewide average at the time of 11%).
"Studies show that increasing access to school breakfast is crucial to fighting childhood hunger and improving test scores in Maryland," said Cathy Demeroto, Director of Maryland Hunger Solutions. "Governor O'Malley's strong leadership on this issue has been key to making sure more Maryland kids are getting the food they need. Because of its many long-term benefits to our most vulnerable children, MMFA is a smart investment for the state of Maryland."More than 25 partners have signed on in support of MMFA. The statewide Breakfast For Success campaign will include paid advertising, an aggressive online advocacy presence, grassroots outreach and events across Maryland. Maryland residents can help support an increase in MMFA funding by going to www.BreakfastForSuccess.org to send a letter to Governor O'Malley and State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery, watch a video on school breakfast, and share an infographic on the facts about school breakfast and MMFA. Supporters of Maryland Meals for Achievement include: Share Our Strength Maryland State Education Association Maryland Hunger Solutions Advocates for Children and Youth Sodexo Foundation United Way of Central Maryland Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute Contact: Ariane Holm | O: 202-649-4350 | C: 571-213-6465 | firstname.lastname@example.org SOURCE Share Our Strength