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Research shows school breakfast improves health and academic outcomes for millions of children each year. For every student starting the day on a full stomach, ready to learn, communities have cause for celebration.
Celebrate they did at #iLoveMMFA, where dozens of schools across Maryland, such as Germantown Elementary School in Annapolis, cheered on the successes of Maryland’s hallmark breakfast in the classroom program — Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA). MMFA allows participating schools to offer breakfast at no charge to all students; the program has steadily improved access to school breakfast.
However, more can be done, especially when it comes to reaching teenagers with school breakfast. The recently proposed Maryland Meals for Achievement for Teens Act (House Bill 257 / Senate Bill 359) seeks to reduce food insecurity among teenagers and increase access to school meals by bolstering the successful MMFA program in secondary schools.
This bill would allow greater participation of secondary schools in MMFA by changing the current requirement that breakfast be delivered to every classroom. Secondary schools would be able to use “grab and go” carts, in addition to serving breakfast in the classroom, both of which remove stigma around school breakfast – a point of vulnerability among teens.
Approximately $2.7 million in additional state funding would allow 93 high-poverty high schools, reaching more than 90,000 students, to participate in MMFA. Already the return on investment from MMFA-funded schools is incredible — 66 percent of children eat school breakfast at schools participating in MMFA, compared to 22 percent, which is the state’s average school breakfast participation rate. Expanding MMFA programing would ensure more teenagers access much-needed nutrition.
Maryland’s leaders must protect and strengthen MMFA in secondary schools so that older students can benefit from school breakfast. If more funding is allotted for MMFA through the newly proposed law, more Maryland students will reap the health and academic benefits.