The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has awarded $6.9 million in state funds to 481 selected schools to participate in the Maryland Meals for Achievement Program (MMFA). The funds supplement the federal reimbursement schools receive through the U.S. Department of Agriculture School Breakfast Program and will allow the MMFA Program to reach 240,665 Maryland Students in school year 2014-2015.
Maryland Meals for Achievement provides in-classroom breakfast to all students in participating schools at no charge regardless of family income. Students eat at their desks while teachers take attendance and do other morning activities. State funding for the MMFA program was increased by $1.7 million for the 2014-2015 school year. The increased funding will provide in-classroom breakfast to an additional 66,738 students in 122 additional schools throughout Maryland. Since the 2007-08 school year, school breakfast participation among students who already eat a free or reduced-price school lunch increased by 37 percent.
The increase in funding is a result of Governor Martin O’Malley’s commitment to end childhood hunger in Maryland by 2015. The Governor’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger works to fight childhood hunger through raising awareness and increasing participation in the federal child nutrition programs.
“We have made the choice to drive down childhood hunger in this State, and the Maryland Meals for Achievement Program is a proven winner for our students,” said Gov. O’Malley. “Better nutrition means better learning, and better learning means a better future for all of our children.”
With funding allocated annually, the participating schools are determined by the amount of state funds available. Maryland law requires the selection of schools to represent geographic and socioeconomic balance. The Maryland State Department of Education also considers previous participation in MMFA and the priorities of county food and nutrition service directors when making selections.
“Having access to a healthy, nutritious breakfast prepares students for their academic day and ensures they start the school day ready to learn,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery.
School administrators and teachers credit the MMFA program with improving student test scores, behavior and well-being. Parents praise the program as a way for their children to prepare for their academic day.
For more information on Maryland’s School Nutrition Programs and a list of participating schools visit the Eat Smart Maryland website.