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In his fiscal 2014 budget, Gov. Martin O’Malley requested $1.8 million to increase funding for a state-funded breakfast program.

Maryland Meals for Achievement is a program that began in 1998 and provides free meals for classrooms at participating schools.

All students at eligible schools eat for free, regardless of family income.

In order for a school to qualify for the program, it must participate in the federal school breakfast program and 40 percent of its enrollment must be eligible for federally subsidized free or reduced-price meals.

In Charles County, one middle school, General Smallwood, and six elementary schools, Dr. Gustavus Brown, Eva Turner, Indian Head, Samuel A. Mudd, Mount Hope/Nanjemoy and J.P. Ryon, participate in the program.

School system spokeswoman Katie O’Malley Simpson said an increase in funding for the program would allow for two or three additional schools to participate.

Gale-Bailey and J.C. Parks elementary schools and Benjamin Stoddert Middle School are all eligible to participate in the program, but not enough funding is available at this time, she said.

According to information from Maryland Hunger Solutions, a $1.8 million increase would allow 56,896 additional Maryland children to start the day with a nutritious in-classroom breakfast during the 2013-2014 school year.

Maryland Hunger Solutions is an advocacy group dedicated to ending hunger in Maryland.

“We urge the members of the Maryland General Assembly to support this increase so that more Maryland children start the day with a healthy breakfast and prepared to learn,” said Cathy Demeroto, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions.

Kristin Shields, principal of Mount Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School, said students at her school really enjoy the program.

She said breakfast is delivered to classrooms every morning and the participation rate is very high.

Anna Beyer, food service manager at Mount Hope, said students come to school excited about breakfast every morning, especially if the menu has anything to do with syrup or pancakes.

Shields said it is often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and her school is fortunate to be able to participate in the program and provide breakfast to the students each day.

gphillips@somdnews.com