Three in five Maryland teachers regularly see kids come to the classroom hungry, according to a recent survey by Share Our Strength. The same study showed that nine in 10 teachers also say that breakfast is key to academic success. They credit breakfast with increased concentration (95 percent), better academic performance (89 percent) and better behavior in the classroom (73 percent).
A recent study by Deloitte showed that schools with a Breakfast in the Classroom program have up to a 7.2 percent lower rate of chronic absenteeism and their students are up to 12.5 percent more likely to pass state standardized math tests.
Many students do not participate in the School Breakfast Program due to tight morning scheduling, cafeteria capacity, and fear of being stigmatized. The Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA) program reduces these barriers by making breakfast free for all students in the classrooms of select, high-need schools.
Thanks to Governor O’Malley’s support of programs like Maryland Meals for Achievement, and other state-wide school breakfast initiatives, more schools are participating in MMFA and more low-income children are eating breakfast at school than ever before. In his FY14 budget, Gov. O’Malley once again demonstrated his commitment to ending childhood hunger in Maryland by asking for an additional $1.8 million for Maryland Meals For Achievement.
MSEA was a leading voice in the Share Our Strength coalition that helped to advance the MMFA program and successfully lobby for this increased funding to expand the program to 50,000 additional students. MSEA will continue to partner with Share Our Strength to work toward a time when no Maryland student will begin their school day hungry.
About Maryland Meals for Achievement
Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA) is an innovative Breakfast in the Classroom program administered by the Maryland State Department of Education. Schools where 40 percent of students or more qualify for free and reduced-price meals are eligible to apply for MMFA. Through MMFA, all students can eat a free breakfast at their desk which helps remove barriers to student participation in breakfast such as the difficulty of getting to school early for traditional breakfast and the stigma of being singled out as being in need of free or reduced priced assistance.