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Fuel Up Before Class: School Breakfast Week in Maryland

March 8, 2012

BALTIMORE - National School Breakfast Week is under way in Maryland, highlighted by events at local schools and studies about the importance of the first meal of the day.

Two-thirds of teachers in kindergarten through eighth grade see children in their classrooms who regularly come to school hungry, according to a recent survey from Share Our Strength.

Anne Sheridan, director of the No Kid Hungry Campaign in Maryland, says their goal is to ensure all children are able to start their days with a healthy breakfast.

"When more children start their school day with either breakfast or a school breakfast, that is linked to better test scores, fewer behavior problems, less tardiness, fewer trips to the school nurse."

Why do children skip breakfast? Sheridan says national studies show money is a likely factor, and local surveys of students show that a lack of time is a problem. She cites those findings as evidence for why it's important that schools offer breakfast to all students, as well as providing opportunities to eat in the classroom.

The Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland and Maryland Hunger Solutions have put together the "First Class Breakfast Initiative," a resource to help schools implement new breakfast programs which make it easier for children to start the day with a healthy meal. While the target is getting healthy breakfasts to low-income students, Sheridan says it's really for all students - and there are long-term benefits.

"It also encourages healthy eating habits, so you see it being a contributor to a reduction in risk for obesity, as well."

Details about the First Class Breakfast program in Maryland are online at md.nokidhungry.org.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD