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Maryland Makes Honor Roll in School Breakfast Report Card

GRAPHIC: A new report ranks Maryland in the top ten for its rate of school breakfast participation among low-income students. Graphic courtesy of Food Research and Action Center.
GRAPHIC: A new report ranks Maryland in the top ten for its rate of school breakfast participation among low-income students. Graphic courtesy of Food Research and Action Center.
February 11, 2015

BALTIMORE - Maryland has moved up to ninth - from 14th last year - in the new School Breakfast Scorecard from the Food Research and Action Center. States were ranked on their rates of getting breakfast to low-income children at school.

Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, said the benefits of breakfast are well-documented for students: boosting academic achievement, improving behavior and attendance, and contributing to a healthier overall diet.

"We're trying to feed their brains and feed their bodies now," he said. "And so, the goal is to have everybody who is eligible for the School Lunch Program also participating in the breakfast program."

Wilson said serving breakfast in classrooms is key to getting nutrition to more children.

The scorecard examined how many students receiving free or reduced-price lunches were also being served breakfast. Nearly 60 percent of Maryland students receiving the lunches participate in breakfast. The goal is to reach 70 percent of those students.

Wilson said he believes that goal can be reached, along with support from the Legislature.

"We're hopeful that by enacting the Community Eligibility legislation we're working on here in the state," he said, "that will enable lots more schools to be able to participate in school breakfast and school lunch, and bring in more federal dollars into the State of Maryland."

The "Community Eligibility" provision allows schools in low-income areas to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students, eliminating paperwork and stigma.

The School Breakfast Scorecard is online at frac.org. Details of the egislation, SB 128, are at legiscan.com.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD