Partnership Budget Priorities Letter to Governor Hogan

 August 15, 2017
Governor Larry Hogan
100 State Circle,
Annapolis, MD 21401
Dear Governor Hogan,
 The Maryland Partnership to End Childhood Hunger is a diverse coalition working to create a state where an adequate amount of healthy food is both geographically and economically accessible for all children.
We applaud your work in implementing the Children’s Cabinet’s Strategic Plan, which includes the goal of reducing childhood hunger as one of four priorities. 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.
Thank you for your partnership, support, and tireless efforts on behalf of the most vulnerable Marylanders. We sincerely look forward to working with your administration in implementing meaningful programs that tackle the crisis of food insecurity and childhood hunger.
 The Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland
$500,000 to Support Local Farmers and Low-Income Marylanders                                              

Farmers markets increase access to healthy, local food and benefit farmers, residents, and local economies. We ask that you support the statewide program that offers financial incentives for redeeming federal nutrition assistance benefits (including WIC and SNAP/FSP) at Maryland farmers markets to increase access to healthy food.
The successful program, Maryland Market Money, improves nutrition, keeps federal benefit dollars in the local economy, and supports local agricultural producers.[i] To date, Maryland Market Money has only been funded by the private sector and funding levels are insufficient to meet the demand for the program. The Maryland Market Money Fund was established in 2017 with bipartisan support; now, we need your support to provide the public resources to fund the program.

$3.3 Million to Eliminate School Meal Fees for Low-Income Families (The Maryland Cares for Kids Act)
Increasing access to school meals is critical to ending child food insecurity.[ii] Unfortunately, the cost of school meals is a significant barrier for many families and students.[iii] A single parent with one child cannot earn more than $20,826 a year to qualify for free school meals and cannot earn more than $29,637 to qualify for reduced-price meals.[iv]  However, 29% of families who fall in the “reduced-price” category (incomes between 130-185% Federal Poverty Line) are food insecure.[v]
With $3.3 million in state funding, Maryland can eliminate the “reduced-price” school meal fees for more than 45,000 children with family incomes between 130% and 185% of the Federal Poverty Line.[vi] In addition to supporting families struggling to get by on low wages, this investment will support school systems all over the state. [vii] In the 2017 session, The Maryland Cares for Kids Act received strong bipartisan support for this initiative.
$4.9 Million Additional to Fully Fund the Maryland Meals For Achievement Program

Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA) is a successful state program that allows high-poverty schools to provide universal free breakfast in the classroom. In Maryland’s public schools, just 27% of students participate in school breakfast.11 However, in MMFA schools, about 66% of students participate in school breakfast.[viii]
Studies have also shown that students at MMFA schools demonstrate enhanced educational performance, improved health, and a reduction in behavioral issues.[ix]  In addition, every dollar of state MMFA funding leverages $5.46 in federal reimbursements.
With $6.9 million in funding, MMFA currently benefits over 230,000 students in 462 schools.[x] However, the current funding only allows for 54% of eligible schools to participate in MMFA. An additional $4.9 million in the Maryland State Department of Education’s Aid to Education Budget for the Maryland Meals for Achievement program will allow 100% of high-poverty schools to participate in the program.
[2] Kabbani, N.S. & Kmeid, M.Y. (2005). The role of food assistance in helping food insecure households escape hunger. Review of Agricultural Economics, 27, 439-445.
[3] Arteaga, I. & Heflin, C. (2014). Participation in the National School Lunch Program and food insecurity: An analysis of transitions into kindergarten. Children and Youth Services Review, 47, 224-230.
[5] Ralston, K., Treen, K. Coleman-Jensen, A., & Guthrie, J. (2017). Children’s Food Security and USDA Child Nutrition Programs, EIB-174, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
[7] Ralston, K., Treen, K. Coleman-Jensen, A., & Guthrie, J. (2017). Children’s Food Security and USDA Child Nutrition Programs, EIB-174, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
[8] Source: MSDE