A coalition of Maryland leaders called on the state legislator and education department to expand the free school breakfast program Wednesday. The group asked for $1.8 million to provide breakfasts to an extra 130 schools.
Under the Maryland Meals for Achievement program, participating public elementary schools provide free nutritious breakfasts in the classroom every morning.
But educators say only half of eligible schools actually participate in the program. In Montgomery County, Md., 80 schools qualify, though 40 are enrolled in the program. About one-fifth of the 150 qualifying schools in Prince George's County participate.
At Roscoe R. Nix Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., which participates in the breakfast initiative, nearly 70 percent of students qualify for free and reduced meals, according to Principal Annette Fkolkes.
"For many of our students, this is the first meal that they've had since lunch the day before here at school," Fkolkes said.