O’Malley recommends expanding free breakfast program to needy schools -- Gazette.Net


Gov. Martin O’Malley listened to the local elected officials and 23 organizations he heard from last month asking him to increase state funding for a program that feeds breakfast to students at needy schools.

O’Malley announced his recommendation this week for $1.8 million to be added to the state’s budget for Maryland Meals For Achievement, which provides free breakfast for all students in their classrooms in schools that qualify.

This school year, the state is spending $3.38 million for services that provide breakfasts to 33,000 students at 271 schools.

With the extra funding, the program would be expanded to serve 56,896 more children in about 130 more needy schools, bringing the total spent to $5.18 million for 89,896 students in 407 schools.

O’Malley has made it a policy goal to end childhood hunger in Maryland by 2015 and has partnered with advocacy groups such as national nonprofit Share Our Strength and its No Kid Hungry campaign.

Maryland Hunger Solutions, one of the groups that wrote to O’Malley, said the funding recommendation demonstrates the governor’s continued commitment.

The organization urges the General Assembly to support the increase, Cathy Demeroto, the director, wrote in a press release.

Led by Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, elected officials in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties gathered in December to announce their request to O’Malley and the Maryland State Board of Education for the additional $1.8 million.

Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring said in a press release Wednesday she was ecstatic to hear the governor’s decision.

Providing the meals improves a child’s health and performance in the classroom, Ervin said in the release.

Ervin is hoping that most of the money go to schools in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, where she says there is the most need. Of Montgomery’s 80 schools that qualify, 40 currently participate.

It is up to the local school boards to advocate for the funding from the state’s education board.