Maryland Hunger Solutions Releases Report Card for School Breakfast Participation
Creating Healthier Students and Better Learners with the School Breakfast Program: Maryland’s Report Card for the 2015-2016 School Year (pdf) measures Maryland’s progress in ensuring that all of the nearly 400,000 low-income students in the state have access to a nutritious school breakfast so they can start the day ready to learn.
Maryland received an overall grade of C for low-income student participation in the School Breakfast Program. Kent County, Somerset County, and Caroline County all received an A for their outstanding efforts in ensuring access to school breakfast. Somerset is the only county in the state to receive straight A’s in all three categories measured in the report. In Somerset County, 71 percent of low-income students participate in school breakfast. In contrast, only 47 percent of low-income students statewide participated in school breakfast during the 2015–2016 school year. Somerset County adopted community eligibility for all schools and enrolled all eligible schools in the Maryland Meals for Achievement program.
The School Breakfast Program
The School Breakfast Program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free breakfast to children at the start of each school day.
Research shows that children who participate in the School Breakfast Program:
- are less likely to experience food insecurity,
- are better able to learn,
- are less likely to be overweight,
- exhibit better behavior at school,
- consume a healthier overall diet,
- demonstrate improved academic performance, and
- are less likely to be late to or absent from school.
Breakfast Delivery Models
MDHS advocates for increased access to the School Breakfast Program, especially for children most in need, and encourages schools to serve “breakfast after the bell,” including Breakfast in the Classroom and Grab and Go Breakfast models, which result in dramatic increases in breakfast participation rates. In the traditional breakfast model, school breakfast is served in the cafeteria before the start of the school day, and participation tends to be low due to transportation issues, stigma, and incompatible bus or family schedules.
Breakfast in the Classroom
- Breakfast is delivered in coolers or insulated bags to the classrooms.
- Students eat together in their classrooms after the morning bell.
- While students eat breakfast, the teacher takes attendance, collects homework, etc.
- This model has been shown to dramatically increase student participation.
- State funding is available, through the Maryland Meals for Achievement fund, to support schools that serve universal free Breakfast in the Classroom.
Grab and Go Breakfast
- Students choose the breakfast items they want from a kiosk in the hallway or cafeteria.
- Breakfast is usually eaten in the classroom after the morning bell.
- This model works well with middle school and high school students.
What’s Happening with Breakfast in Maryland?
Maryland leads the country in ensuring that students can start the day ready to learn with the Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA) program. This state-funded program expands access to universal, free Breakfast in the Classroom in high poverty schools. Participating schools enjoy significantly higher breakfast participation, improved student attendance, and improved student behavior. In the 2017-2018 school year, 451 schools, with more than 240,000 students, participate in this program. However, 62 schools that applied to participate were not able to do so, due to lack of funding for this successful program.
Hear the Maryland Crunch!
Maryland Hunger Solution’s Hear the Maryland Crunch! campaign raises awareness about the importance of the School Breakfast Program in the fight against childhood hunger. Thousands of Marylanders crunch an apple together to spread the word that every child in Maryland should have access to a healthy breakfast. Follow this link to photos and more information.
Community Eligibility Creates Hunger-Free Schools
The Community Eligibility Provision allows high-poverty schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. In the 2016-2017 school year, there were 229 Hunger-Free Schools in Maryland with more than 98,200 students. This new school meal funding option became available in all states in the 2014-2015 school year. Follow this link to more information.
- First Class Breakfast in Maryland: A Guide to Expanding School Breakfast (pdf)
- Reducing Childhood Hunger with the School Breakfast Program: Maryland’s Report Card(December 2014 report) (pdf)
Maryland Hunger Solutions can Help By:
- Working with your school to tailor a program to make breakfast a part of every child’s school day.
- Providing you with breakfast outreach materials to promote the program to students and families.
- Giving a presentation to students, faculty, or staff about the importance of school breakfast.