Baltimore, Md. – February 17, 2012 – Hundreds of paper apples from people in every county across Maryland have been collected by Maryland Hunger Solutions. Sharing messages of how to create a healthy hunger-free Maryland, a selection of the apples will be on display on the third floor of the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis through April 9, 2012.
Maryland Hunger Solutions’ Paper Apple Campaign asks Marylanders to draw or write their vision of a healthy, hunger-free state. Since launching in December 2011, more than 500 apples have been collected from every county. Thirty apples came from children at the Caroline County Public Library, more than 20 came from seniors at an AARP Community Resource Day in Baltimore City, and more than 40 apples came from children in afterschool programs in Frederick County.
“The response to our Paper Apple Campaign has been overwhelming. We’re seeing that Marylanders across the state see the value of programs like school meals and the Food Supplement Program, and urge our elected officials to make them stronger,” said Maryland Hunger Solutions Director Cathy Demeroto. “Maryland Hunger Solutions created this Paper Apple Exhibit to bring the voices and messages of Marylanders to our elected officials during this critical legislative session.”
Senator Joanne Benson and Delegate Mary Washington joined Demeroto for a celebration, held today, to mark the opening of the Paper Apple Campaign Exhibit. Also attending were Rosemary King Johnston of the Maryland Governor’s Office for Children and Brenda Schwaab of Maryland State Department of Education. More than 100 apples will be on display at the exhibit, with sections dedicated to exploring the unique challenges of hunger among children and among seniors.
“Far too many families struggle with hunger in Maryland, but the Paper Apple Campaign is helping to shed a light on the challenge of childhood hunger in our state and solutions to end it. One priority we see echoed on these apples is the need to help more children start the day with a nutritious breakfast. Members of the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger are joining with Maryland Hunger Solutions to urge the General Assembly to preserve funding for the Maryland Meals for Achievement program to help more students start the day with this important morning meal,” said Rosemary King Johnston, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office for Children.
In his FY2013 budget proposal, Governor Martin O’Malley included a 20 percent increase in funding for the Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA) program in his FY2013 budget proposal. The benefits of MMFA (a state program that supports breakfast in the classroom initiatives) are clear – according to a report by Maryland Hunger Solutions, counties with a greater percentage of schools participating in MMFA also had higher participation rates in school breakfast.
But the program’s reach has been hampered by low funding. During the 2011-2012 school year, only 228 of the 780 schools that are eligible to participate in the MMFA program were able to participate because of budget limitations. The additional funding (an increase of $560,000) would enable 46 more eligible schools to participate and provide in-classroom breakfast to 20,000 more children, according to the Maryland State Department of Education.
Recent data released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) show that less than half of low-income children in Maryland (46.8:100) who eat school lunch participated in the School Breakfast Program during the 2010-2011 school year. FRAC also measured participation in 26 large urban school districts, including Baltimore City and Prince George’s County. While both school districts saw a slight increase in participation from the previous school year, both remained just below the state average. In Baltimore, participation increased from 44.7:100 to 46.1:100, while participation increased from 43.1:100 to 44.3:100 in Prince George’s County. The FRAC report found, however, that participation grew very rapidly in states and school districts that adopted widespread breakfast in the classroom programs.
“Participation in school breakfast soars when the meal is moved out of the cafeteria and becomes part of the scheduled school day. An increase in funding for MMFA means that more children will start the day with a healthy morning meal by helping more schools receive the resources needed to provide free school breakfast to all of their students,” said Demeroto. “The Governor’s proposed increase will make a big difference to low-income children, and we urge the General Assembly to preserve this critical funding that the Governor has included in his budget.”
To learn more about the Paper Apple Campaign, visit Maryland Hunger Solutions’ website.