The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of Senate Bill 359. The Catholic Conference represents the public-policy interests of the three (arch)diocese serving Maryland, including the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.
Senate Bill 359 would allow high schools participating in the Maryland Meals for Achievement Program (MMFA) the ability to serve breakfast to students at locations outside of their classrooms, including via “grab and go” carts. It would also ensure that breakfast is provided to students at participating schools after their arrival.
MMFA lends state support to afford schools with greater concentrations of low-income students the ability to provide breakfast to all students, free of charge. However, many eligible high schools have been reluctant to participate in the program due to the logistical nature of the high school schedule, where daily responsibilities increase and students must cope with greater schedule autonomy. Unfortunately, only a mere 24% of eligible high schools are currently benefiting from the program. The proposed statutory expansion to allow “grab and go” breakfast at high schools would likely result in a dramatic increase in high school participation in the MFA program.
Multiple Maryland Catholic schools serve hundreds of breakfasts every day to their students through the MFA program. Our school community recognizes the important role that breakfast plays in sustaining students throughout the day and maximizing their learning potential. Nutrition programs such as MMFA assist in Catholic schools’ goal of addressing the needs of the whole child. Moreover, such programs are particularly important when providing support to students whose families are unable to provide them enough to eat. Thus, we support the effort to expand access to the program presented by Senate Bill 359 and we urge you to provide a favorable report.