The federal School Breakfast Program is a critical, proven way to reduce hunger and improve health and learning among school-age children. School breakfast reduces hunger, helps families in Maryland stretch their food budgets, and boosts academic performance.

Maryland Hunger Solutions Releases Report on Reach of School Breakfast in the 2022-2023 School Year

Fewer students across Maryland are accessing school breakfast, according to the 2024 Maryland School Breakfast Report released by Maryland Hunger Solutions. The report measures the reach of school breakfast in the 2022–2023 school year from September through May based on a variety of metrics, and examines the impact of select trends and policies on program participation.

Maryland Hunger Solutions Releases New Report Card for School Breakfast Participation
The Creating Healthier Students & Better Learners with the School Breakfast Program: Maryland School Breakfast Report finds that 61.8 low- income students ate school breakfast for every 100 who ate school lunch in Maryland in the 2018–2019 school year. The report measures the state’s progress in reaching low-income students with school breakfast to ensure they start the day ready to learn. While the state has made great strides in expanding school breakfast participation, there is more work to do.

Community Eligibility allows schools with high percentages of low-income children to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. The report shows that in the 2018-2019 school year, 242 Maryland schools participated in community eligibility, meaning more than 106,200 students in Maryland could eat school breakfast at no cost.

Benefits of School Breakfast
Research shows that children who participate in school breakfast:

  • 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.

Sources: Breakfast for Learning and Breakfast for Health, Food Research & Action Center

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 school day begins, or after the bell. 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.

These models include breakfast in the classroom, “grab and go” breakfast, and second chance breakfast, all of which increase breakfast participation rates.

Breakfast in the Classroom

  • Breakfast is delivered in coolers or insulated bags to classrooms.
  • Students eat together in their classrooms after the morning bell.
  • While students eat breakfast, the teacher takes attendance, collects homework, etc.
  • State funding is available, through the Maryland Meals for Achievement fund, to support eligible schools that serve 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.

Second Chance Breakfast

  • Students eat after first period, during a morning nutrition break.
  • Breakfast is eaten either in the cafeteria or between classes.
  • This model works particularly well for secondary schools because older students are often not hungry early in the morning and tend to arrive at school closer to the start of the school day.