A MACo-supported bill to increase state funding for free school breakfasts for students will expand access this Fall, with Prince George’s County projected to benefit greatly.
MACo supported SB 559 – Education – Maryland Meals for Achievement In-Classroom Breakfast Program – Annual Appropriation during the 2023 legislative session. The bill, which was recently signed into law, increases the annual State appropriation required for the Maryland Meals for Achievement In-Classroom Breakfast Program from $7.5 million to over $12 million, providing much-needed support from the State to supplement federal aid used to supply students in need with free breakfast.
The Maryland Meals for Achievement program is decades-old and provides free breakfast to students in schools where 40% or more of the students are eligible for the federal free lunch program, also known as the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). More than 700 schools in all 23 counties and Baltimore City currently participate in the program.
Prince George’s County schools are set to benefit significantly from the increased free breakfast funding. According to WTOP reporting, the $4.5 million increase in state funding will be “especially noticeable in Prince George’s County, where 87 of the 123 schools being added to the program are eligible.”
Research is clear: access to healthy, quality in-school meals improves students’ educational experiences and learning performance. Furthermore, need and eligibility for free and reduced meals is growing statewide − as evidenced by the recently uncovered additional 111,000 students who should receive free and reduced school meals.
The expansion and increased funding will be available to schools starting in the Fall 2023 semester.