What is the School Breakfast Program?
The School Breakfast Program is a federally funded meal program that operates in public and private nonprofit schools and residential child care institutions that provide nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free meals.
Why is access to School Breakfast so important?
Studies show that eating breakfast at school has many positive results. For example:
- Reduced food insecurity,
- Fewer visits to the school nurse,
- Improved diets,
- Lower likelihood of obesity,
- Reduced absenteeism, and
- Healthier eating habits.
The benefits of breakfast are substantial, but too many children in Maryland miss out on a healthy start to their day. In fact, the program only reaches about half of all low-income students in the state.
How do we increase access to School Breakfast?
No Kid Hungry Maryland works to increase access to breakfast by helping schools implement delivery models that overcome the barriers to participating in the “traditional model” of cafeteria breakfast before the school day begins. Models that include breakfast as part of the school day are the most effective way to increase participation. Delivering breakfast meals to the classroom is the best way to ensure that every student has the time and opportunity to eat breakfast without being singled out or stigmatized. A “grab and go” breakfast model allows students to take a meal from kiosks or carts in convenient locations throughout the school. This model is most often used before first period, so that students can grab food on their way to first period class. Some schools offer a grab and go breakfast in between first and second period or during a morning break.
What is Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA)?
Since 1998, this successful state program allows schools to provide free Breakfast in the Classroom to all students. Studies show that students in MMFA schools demonstrate better educational performance, improved health and a decrease in discipline problems.
To be eligible for MMFA funding, a school must have at least 40% of its students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Schools must also shift the time they serve breakfast, serving it as part of the school day (like lunch) instead of before school starts.
Unfortunately, more than 130,000 additional Maryland students would benefit from a fully funded MMFA program.