Governor O'Malley Joins Education Leaders and Anti-Hunger Advocates to Discuss Impact of School Breakfast on Academic Achievement

Feb 27, 2013, 07:00 ET from Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign

New Analysis Shows Potential Impact of School Breakfast on Academic Achievement, Economic Prosperity; Interactive Map Shows Possible Benefits on State, Local Levels

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor O'Malley joined national child anti-hunger group Share Our Strength, Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch, State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery, Maryland State Education Association, Maryland PTA, members of the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland and other education leaders to discuss how connecting more kids to the School Breakfast Program through Maryland Meals for Achievement can potentially impact academic achievement.

"A healthy breakfast is the foundation for a child's success, whether that's academic performance and test scores, behavior, health, or school attendance and participation," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "Working with partners like Share our Strength and the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger, we are making progress toward our goal of being the first state in the nation to eliminate childhood hunger."

According to new analysis released at the event, "Ending Childhood Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis" ensuring low-income children have access to a healthy school breakfast has the potential to dramatically impact their academic, health and economic futures. The study was developed in collaboration with Deloitte and analyzed third party studies and publicly available data.

Analysis of Maryland data showed that if 70% of elementary and middle school kids eating a free or reduced-price lunch were also getting school breakfast in Maryland, this has the potential impact of 47,955 fewer school absences per year, 31,970 students scoring higher on standardize math tests per year, and 7,993 more high school graduates.

The analysis also compared Maryland schools participating in MMFA to those not participating and found   that MMFA schools had as much as a 7.2% lower rate of chronic absenteeism and students in schools serving breakfast in their classrooms were up to 12.5% more likely to achieve proficiency on standardized math tests.

Governor O'Malley encouraged the Maryland General Assembly to support his request for $1.8 million in additional funding for Maryland Meals for Achievement, an innovative in-classroom breakfast program in high-need schools. The additional funding would allow 57,000 more Maryland students to participate in the program and eat breakfast at their desks, ensuring that they are starting the day ready to learn.

"Maryland schools are ranked number one for a reason—we continue to invest in our students and help them be successful through programs like Maryland Meals for Achievement," said Maryland Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery.

Nationally, students on average who eat school breakfast have been shown to achieve 17.5% higher scores on standardized math tests and attend 1.5 more days of school per year. Research also shows students who attend class more regularly are 20% more likely to graduate from high school, and high school graduates typically earn $10,090 more a year while enjoying a 4% higher employment rate.

"This report demonstrates that simply providing a healthy breakfast goes a long way in ensuring our economic prosperity," says Share Our Strength President Tom Nelson.  "The potential for students who eat breakfast to experience greater academic achievement and increased job readiness ultimately means a healthier and stronger economy."

The traditional school breakfast – breakfast served to low-income students in the cafeteria before school begins – has not been widely effective in getting more students eating breakfast due to stigma and tough schedules. In Maryland, only 56 % of kids who got a free or reduced-priced school lunch in September 2012 also ate school breakfast [MSDE]. Innovative ways of serving breakfast, moving it from the cafeteria to the classroom, help close that gap and ensure more low-income students are able to start the day with a healthy meal.

"As an educator, I've seen the difference school breakfast and healthy food choices make in a child's life," said Maryland State Education Association Vice President Cheryl Bost. "Knowing they can start the day with the fuel they need to learn gives students a leg-up every day."

The Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland, led by the Governor's Office for Children and Share Our Strength, works to increase school breakfast program participation through the First Class Breakfast Initiative and through advocating for Maryland Meals for Achievement funding. So far, this work has helped 130 schools change the way they serve breakfast so that more kids are participating in the program.

"We all have a role to play in making sure that students have the nourishment they need to focus in class and do well academically," said Rita Lowman, president of the Maryland PTA who recently joined the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland.

"As a chef, I understand the importance of nutritious food in people's lives and through working with the No Kid Hungry campaign, I am even more keenly aware of what a square meal means for children," said Woodberry Kitchen Chef Spike Gjerde.

Learn more about these findings at NoKidHungry.org/Breakfast and find out about the work being done locally to end childhood hunger at www.NoKidHungry.org/Maryland.  

Read the Deloitte White Paper in its entirety "Ending Childhood Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis" at NoKidHungry.org/Breakfast.

About Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign
No child should grow up hungry in America, but one in five children struggles with hunger. Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry® campaign is ending childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day. The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals and teaches low-income families to cook healthy, affordable meals through its Cooking Matters program.  This work is accomplished through the No Kid Hungry network, made up of private citizens, public officials, nonprofits, business leaders and others providing innovative hunger solutions in their communities. The No Kid Hungry campaign's work to increase school breakfast participation is generously supported by national sponsor Kellogg's Corporate Citizenship Fund.  Join us at NoKidHungry.org.

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 First Class Breakfast Initiative is available at NoKidHungryMd.org. 

Contact: Ariane Holm | 202-649-4350 | aholm@strength.org

SOURCE Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign