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Airline travel and more disrupted by global tech outage; Nevada gets OK to sell federal public lands for affordable housing;Science Moms work to foster meaningful talks on climate change; Scientists reconsider net-zero pledges to reach climate goals.

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As Trump accepts nomination for President, delegates emphasize themes of unity and optimism envisioning 'new golden age.' But RNC convention was marked by strong opposition to LGBTQ rights, which both opened and closed the event.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Report: MD schools serving thousands fewer meals post-COVID

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Tuesday, June 25, 2024   

The latest Maryland School Breakfast Report finds tens of thousands fewer kids are being served post COVID.

The end of pandemic era waivers two years ago saw schools revert to tiered systems of free or reduced-price meals based on household income. In turn, despite a slightly larger student population, the 2022-23 school year saw the average number of breakfasts served in a day fall by nearly 39,000, and saw 65,000 fewer lunches served, compared with 2020-21.

LaMonika Jones, interim director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, said reducing the reach of school meals, especially breakfast, takes a toll in the classroom.

"It's challenging for a student at any age to sit in the classroom and focus on what the teacher is trying to share when they're hungry. I understand the argument that it takes away from instruction, but the distraction of being hungry also takes away from instructional time," Jones explained.

The report shows the total number of breakfasts served in the state overall fell by more than 6.5 million in 2022 versus the year prior.

The report identifies barriers to school breakfast participation, including cost, time and the stigma associated with being on a free meal program.

Schools with at least 40% of students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals can opt-in to the state-funded Maryland Meals for Achievement program, which offers free breakfast to all students. While traditional school breakfasts are served in the cafeteria before class, Jones says MMFA is an alternative breakfast model that offers greater flexibility.

"Our students are able to either have 'grab and go' style, which works really well for our older students, or for our little ones, we're able to have breakfast in the classroom. And having those alternative models in place, as well as the funding to cover the cost of these alternative models, ensures that we're meeting that need," she continued.

This past year saw 588 schools participate in MMFA, up from 485 in 2019.


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