Councilwoman Valerie Ervin Issues National School Breakfast Week Proclamation
Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland focuses on promoting the importance of school breakfast and making it more accessible to students
Silver Spring, MD (March 8, 2012) – Montgomery Country District 5 Councilwoman Valerie Ervin joined the Maryland Governor’s Office for Children, the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), the Maryland State Department of Education, and Share Our Strength® today at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School to issue a National School Breakfast Week Proclamation and raise awareness about the state’s school breakfast program. Montgomery County Board of Education President Shirley Brandman and MCPS Superintendent Joshua P. Starr were among those in attendance.
"Over the last few years, we have seen more and more Montgomery County students qualifying for free and reduced-price meals.” said Councilwoman Ervin. “Many children count on school nutrition programs when they may not be provided for at home, so we are here today to promote the importance of school breakfast and ensure we make it as accessible as possible to our students.”
The School Breakfast Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers all students a chance to start the day with a healthy meal. But according to Maryland Hunger Solutions, of the nearly 230,000 students in Maryland who ate free or reduced-price lunch during the 2009-2010 school year, only 104,000 participated in the School Breakfast Program. Barriers, including stigma and transportation logistics, cause school breakfast participation rates to be low.
"The Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland is working to promote the School Breakfast Program here in Montgomery County and across the state," said Rosemary King Johnston, Executive Director of the Maryland Governor’s Office for Children. "Starting the day with a nutritious meal provides significant health and development benefits and improves the overall academic environment for students.”
When Share Our Strength polled America’s middle-school teachers in 2011, two-thirds said they taught children who regularly came to school hungry. Studies show that children who eat breakfast tend to perform better on standardized tests, make fewer mistakes in math, and show a general increase in math and reading scores. They also generally have fewer discipline problems and visit school nurses' offices less often.
“A hungry student can’t learn and that is why it is so important that all of our students have the opportunity to start their day with a nutritious meal,” said Superintendent Starr. “We are very grateful for the collaboration and partnership that allows us to serve more than 3.5 million breakfasts to our students each year.”
More than 45,000 students in MCPS qualify for free and reduced-price meals and as of the end of January, MCPS schools had served more than 2.1 million breakfasts. There are 32 schools in MCPS—including New Hampshire Estates Elementary—that participate in the Maryland Meals for Achievement Program, with all students in these schools receiving breakfast at no cost.
Maryland Meals for Achievement Program is an initiative of the Maryland State Department of Education that provides free in-classroom breakfast to all students at 228 high-need schools across the state. Through programs like MMFA and First Class Breakfast, a Partnership initiative that provides grants and technical assistance to schools interested in adopting alternative delivery models, like “Grab and Go” or “Breakfast in the Classroom,” the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland is working to remove many of the barriers to participation in school breakfast.
“The Maryland Meals for Achievement Program has made a significant difference for the children in our school,” said Marinda Thomas Evans, principal of New Hampshire Estates Elementary School. “Students are excited to come to school, happy to have breakfast in their room as part of their morning routine and are more focused on their school work.“
National School Breakfast Week, March 5-9, is organized by the School Nutrition Association with events taking place across the country. The Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland is generously supported by lead sponsors Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Sodexo Foundation and Walmart Foundation and Share Our Strength’s core partners Con Agra Foods Foundation, Walmart and the Food Network.
About Share Our Strength
Share Our Strength®,a national nonprofit, is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Through its No Kid Hungry® Campaign—a national effort to end childhood hunger in America— Share Our Strengthensures children in need are enrolled in federal nutrition programs, invests in community organizations fighting hunger, teaches families how to cook healthy, affordable meals, and builds public-private partnerships to end hunger, nationally and at the state and city levels. Visit www.Strength.org to learn more.
About the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland
Led by the Governor’s Office for Children and Share Our Strength, the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland is a strong and growing coalition of state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, advocacy groups and the private sector. The Partnership is working together to implement a five year plan for ending childhood hunger by increasing participation in federal nutrition programs. More about the Partnership’s plan and the statewide summer meals campaign is available at www.NoKidHungryMD.org.