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Politicians look for school meal funding

Speak of need to provide breakfast for school children

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Published on: Thursday, December 27, 2012

By Christa Puccio

SILVER SPRING – Some Montgomery County elected officials plan to request $1.8 million for Fiscal Year 2014 Maryland State Department of Education budget to fund universal breakfast for an additional 56,896 children in Maryland.

“Providing nutritious meals is one of the most immediate and cost effective ways to improve a child's health and performance in the classroom,” said Councilmember Ervin, who chairs the council’s Education Committee. “The groundswell of support I have received from the Montgomery and Prince George’s County delegations illustrates how much of an impact this program has on the lives of children. As the chair of the Council’s Education Committee, I am thankful for the many partners we have at the federal and state levels to support summer food and universal breakfast in Montgomery County.”

Ervin, as well as a coalition of elected officials, called for more funding for the Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA), a program allowing schools that have at least 40 percent of its student population eligible for free or reduced-price meals (FARMS) to provide universal, in-classroom breakfast.  Montgomery County has more than 80 schools that meet the criteria to participate in MMFA, but because of funding levels, only 40 schools are benefiting from the program this school year.

“Maryland Meals for Achievement is a proven program that boosts student achievement and reduces behavior problems at schools,” said Delegate Anne Kaiser, who serves as Montgomery Delegation chair to the General Assembly and Chief Deputy Majority Whip. “State resources are needed to advance this program in our schools.”

In Montgomery County, more than one out of every seven children is at risk of hunger. Over the last three academic years, the number of children qualifying for free or reduced-price meals in the county has increased more than 25 percent with more than 47,000 children now falling below 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

“It is the administrators, principals, teachers, cafeteria workers and support staff in our schools who make it possible for our children to receive a healthy breakfast in classrooms throughout the County,” said Ervin. “Working together, we have moved this issue forward as a priority for our children, and while we have been successful, there is still more work to do to ensure that none of our children start the day hungry.”

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