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New Year’s Resolution for Maryland Schools? Breakfast

December 19, 2011

BALTIMORE - Serving up the basics in Maryland schools means serving up breakfast along with the lessons, according to the anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength, which wants to see more breakfast offerings in schools. Statistics show that nearly 260,000 low-income pupils in the state eat free or reduced-price lunches, yet only about 118,000 partake of school breakfasts.

Share Our Strength founder and CEO Billy Shore says the state could close that gap.

"Studies show that increasing access to school breakfast is crucial to fighting childhood hunger. It also reduces obesity and improves test scores. So, it's as much an education issue as it is a hunger and poverty issue."

The Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMfA) program serves breakfast to students regardless of income, which reduces any stigma attached to receiving school breakfast and helps increase the number of kids who start their days with a meal.

Shore says Governor Martin O'Malley and legislators on both sides of the aisle have been strong supporters of the school breakfast program. He thinks now is the time to expand it.

"When we've got record levels of hunger and poverty because of the economy right now, and we've got programs that we know that work, the key now is to connect these kids to these programs."

Share Our Strength supports boosting funding for MMfA so every eligible school can serve universal breakfast.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD