Maryland Hits Major Milestone in School Breakfast Participation, but there is Still Room for Improvement
Increasing Breakfast Participation in Populous Jurisdictions Must be Priority
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kirsten Bokenkamp, (202) 986-2200 x 3974; firstname.lastname@example.org
Baltimore, Md. – May 14, 2013 – More than half of all low-income Maryland students who participated in school lunch also participated in school breakfast during the 2011-2012 school year, according to a new report released today by Maryland Hunger Solutions. A major milestone in Maryland Hunger Solutions’ efforts to improve the reach of this important program, the report also found that participation grew from the previous school year by an impressive 14.4 percent, resulting in 131,936 low-income students in Maryland starting the day with a nutritious school breakfast.
The report found that 51.3 low-income students participated in the School Breakfast Program for every 100 students who participated in the School Lunch Program—an increase of 4.5 students per 100 from the previous school year, when the ratio was 46.8:100. For the first time, Maryland ranks above the national average ratio, which was 50.4:100 during the 2011-2012 school year.
“Expanding participation in breakfast is one of the best ways to ensure that Maryland’s children are healthy and ready to learn,” said Cathy Demeroto, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions. “Efforts to expand school breakfast in Maryland are making a difference, and we’re pleased to see that the state is moving in the right direction. Still, we can build on this progress and reach even more children, especially in urban areas.”
Participation varied widely from county to county, from a high of 98.4:100 in Somerset County to a low of 27.8:100 in Howard County. Four of the five most populous jurisdictions (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties) had significant increases in participation – with gains of 20.4, 18.8, 16.6, and 20 percent in the number of students eating breakfast, respectively. Baltimore City’s gains were more modest, with just a 5.4 percent gain in participation. Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties had participation rates above the state average, but Baltimore and Montgomery counties and Baltimore City continued to have rates below the state average.
“Many children in counties with low participation in school breakfast aren’t getting the food they need to thrive at school,” said Demeroto. “Many parts of the state – especially those that adopted breakfast in the classroom or other alternative ways of serving breakfast – were successful in increasing participation. More must be done state-wide, and especially in the most populous areas, to support and encourage such innovative and successful programs.”
The report found that jurisdictions with widespread use of alternative delivery models (such as serving breakfast in the classroom) had the most success in increasing participation in school breakfast in Maryland. For example, schools, especially from rural counties, participating in Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA) – a state-funded program that supports breakfast in the classroom programs – generally had higher participation in the School Breakfast Program. In his FY2014 budget, the Governor included a $1.8 million funding increase for MMFA which will allow more schools to participate in the future. Other programs that were instrumental in increasing participation through alternative delivery models were the First Class Breakfast Initiative and the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom project.
“All of these programs were critical to the state’s increase in school breakfast participation, and Maryland Hunger Solutions applauds Governor Martin O’Malley’s support of these programs,” said Demeroto.
Maryland Hunger Solutions has a participation goal of reaching 70 low-income children with breakfast for every 100 who also eat lunch. Three jurisdictions, Somerset, Kent, and Dorchester counties, surpassed this goal. Increasing participation in the school breakfast program so that 70 low-income students eat breakfast for every 100 who eat school lunch would give Maryland an additional $12,943,493 in federal child nutrition funding to combat childhood hunger and improve nutrition, and would reach an additional 48,634 children.
The full analysis is available online at: www.mdhungersolutions.org.
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Maryland Hunger Solutions is the lead research, public education, and advocacy group in Maryland dedicated to using public programs to end hunger in Maryland. Maryland Hunger Solutions is an initiative of the Food Research and Action Center. For more information, visit www.mdhungersolutions.org or follow us on Twitter.