Maryland School Boards Take Hunger Lessons Seriously
BALTIMORE - Breakfast for public school pupils often begins in the board room - the school board room. January is School Board Recognition Month, and Share Our Strength's "No Kid Hungry" campaign is highlighting the importance of school boards in ending childhood hunger in Maryland, through programs such as school breakfast.
According to Molly McCloskey, director of the Maryland No Kid Hungry campaign, boards set policy, funding and staffing, and are in touch with what's going on in children's lives.
"Boards of education, elected boards of education in particular, are really the closest politicians to the community," she declared. "They speak for children in a way that sometimes state and federal legislators can't."
McCloskey noted that most schools in Maryland offer breakfast to pupils, but only about 60 percent of children receiving free or reduced-price lunches are also being served breakfast. She said making it easier to gain access to food in the mornings would help, and that can be done by moving meals into classrooms.
McCloskey said research backs up teacher assessments of the benefits of school breakfast. Children aren't absent from school as often and score higher on standardized math tests. Those success points are important to school board members.
"They can demonstrate their commitment to all of the factors that help a young person leave their district ready for post-secondary education, meaningful employment and active citizenship," she said.
McCloskey declared that the Montgomery County Board of Education's support for moving breakfast into the classroom has helped raise awareness around the state about hunger as an education issue.