The United States has more than enough food for all Americans, and there are nutrition programs in place — such as school breakfast and free summer meals — to assist families who are struggling to put meals on the table.
One important initiative, Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA), provides free breakfast for all children in 228 high-need schools, including seven schools in Frederick County. This state program is a national model that makes it easier for students to get breakfast in the morning and reduces the stigma that is often attached to eating breakfast at school.
The result is a significant participation increase in the school breakfast program among participating schools. This is important because studies have shown that students who start the day with a nutritious breakfast demonstrate improved academic performance.
Despite the program's success, there are still over 500 schools in Maryland that meet the eligibility requirements for MMFA but that will not be funded this year due to budget limitations. A larger investment from the state would allow the program to provide breakfast every morning to thousands of the most vulnerable children, giving them a firmer foundation for academic success.
There are few things more important than ensuring children have what they need to be successful. In these difficult economic times, we owe it to our kids to stick up for programs like MMFA that not only provide them with a nutritious meal to start their day, but also the promise of a bright and healthy future.
Bryan Voltaggio, Frederick
The writer is chef and owner of the VOLT Restaurant.