The Senate Budget and Tax Committee will hear SB 740, the Maryland Cares for Kids Act, as well as SB 818, Maryland Meals for Achievement.
At current funding levels, MMFA currently benefits over 230,000 students in 462 schools. But that is only 54% of schools that are eligible to participate in MMFA. Ensuring full funding for this critical program would allow 100% of high-poverty schools to participate in the program. MMFA is a proven way to boost student participation in breakfast programs. Across Maryland’s public schools, just 27% of students participate in school breakfast. However, in MMFA schools, about 66% of students participate in school breakfast. SB 818 would increase the funding for this program to ensure that every child in a high-poverty school starts the day ready to learn.
The House Ways and Means Committee will hear HB1235, the House version of the Maryland Meals for Achievement Act, on March 13th.
Thank you to everyone who came to Annapolis for the Anti-Hunger Advocacy Day! The coalition had a lot of successful meetings, got some new support on our legislative efforts, and strengthened existing relationships with lawmakers. Your voice makes a difference – please contact your legislators and tell them you support the anti-hunger agenda: the Maryland Cares for Kids Act, increased funding for Maryland Meals for Achievement, and funding for the Maryland Market Money Fund.
ACY proudly joined our coalition members today to support HB315, The Maryland Cares for Kids Act. This legislation would eliminate the reduced price meals category for school breakfast and lunch programs, which would:
- Expand access to healthy school meals by removing fees for struggling families.
- Simplify and streamline school meal program operations.
- Benefit school budgets by reducing the debts often incurred by low-income families.
- Use $3.5M in state funds to reimburse school districts. (Schools will also continue to receive federal reimbursements of approximately $1.36-$2.67 per meal.)
- Build on the successful initiatives to eliminate the reduced-price breakfast fees in Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Montgomery, and Washington County Public Schools.
ACY provided both written and verbal testimony in the House Ways and Means Committee urging support for HB315. The Senate Budget and Tax Committee will hear the cross-filed legislation, SB 740, on March 7.
ACY staff testified on the Maryland Market Money Fund before the House Appropriations Committee, Transportation and the Environment Subcommittee. This program leverages federal and state dollars to support both low-income residents and our local farmers. The program was authorized at $500,000, but unfortunately no funding was allocated for the program in the Governor’s budget.
By increasing the spending power of low-income Marylanders, particularly at farmers’ markets across the state, this program has a dual benefit by supporting both consumers and merchants. Incentivizing use of federal nutrition benefits means increased federal dollars circulating through Maryland’s local economies. According to existing program data, each $1.00 the state spends is matched by the $1.30 in federal benefit spending. Therefore, $350,000 in state funds will lead to $800,000 in local farmer profit.
The Senate Budget and Tax Committee, Public Safety, Transportation, and Environment Subcommittee, will hear the Department of Agriculture budget on February 6th. Verbal testimony will not be allowed.
Governor Hogan introduced his FY2019 Budget. The budget did not meet the goals established by the coalition to ensure our most vulnerable children have access to healthy and nutritious foods.
The Maryland Market Money Fund, which was created with bipartisan support in 2017 and authorized at $500,000, would leverage federal benefits by providing state incentives for low-income residents who use their nutrition assistance benefits at their local farmers market. Unfortunately no funding was allocated in the Governor’s budget.
The budget also failed to adequately fund the Maryland Meals for Achievement. This highly successful program allows high-poverty schools to provide universal free breakfast in the classroom. With $6.9 million in funding, MMFA currently benefits over 230,000 students in 462 schools. However, the current funding only allows for 54% of eligible schools to participate. The coalition requested an additional $4.9 million to allow 100% of eligible schools to be part of this program, but the Governor’s budget level-funded the program.
Today the Maryland Partnership to End Childhood Hunger submitted a letter to Governor Hogan to bring attention to the 3 key proven strategies to address hunger in Maryland.
Here is a snapshot of what we sent to the Governor:
“The School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs, and the Food Supplement Program (FSP/SNAP), are among our best strategies to reduce childhood hunger. As you develop the FY 2019 operating budget, we encourage you to include support for the following critical and effective programs that support low income students and families, at the same time strengthening our local farmers and retail food distributors. We believe that ending childhood hunger is an attainable goal in Maryland, and is one that will have far-reaching benefits for all Marylanders.”