The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public-policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.
SB 360 repeals the requirement that the State Board of Education (SBE) adopt and publish standards for the administration of a subsidized feeding program. Instead, the bill would require the State to be responsible for the student share of the costs of reduced priced meals and prohibit a county board from charging certain students for any portion of the cost of a meal.
The Conference advocates for those who are poor and vulnerable in society. Although Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country, one in eight households in Maryland face constant food insecurity . Sadly, children and adolescents are not exempt from that statistic. School breakfast and lunch programs are essential to not only ending hunger, but for improving the health and educational outcomes of students who live with food insecurity.
This legislation is an essential component in ending childhood hunger in Maryland because it would make schools meals free to all students who qualify for free or reduced priced meals. Families that qualify for reduced meals do not necessarily have incomes that are high enough above the poverty line to afford even the reduced cost of school meals. Therefore, students run the risk of reaching a debt limit for not paying for school meals and then not receiving future meals due to those unpaid balances. It is an investment in Marylanders to shift the responsibility of paying for reduced priced meals from students and families to the State in order to ensure that students are able to access the food they need to live healthfully and succeed in school.
The Conference appreciates your consideration and urges you to support SB 360.