BALTIMORE (Nov. 14, 2009) Governor Martin OMalley Friday celebrated the one year anniversary of the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland by having lunch with kids at Annapolis Child Care, and proclaimed the week of November 16 through 20 as Maryland Hunger Awareness Week, to coincide with National Hunger Awareness Week. Last year, Maryland Governor Martin OMalley and Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit organization, announced a Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland.
Especially during these tough times, together, we must ensure that no child goes without the basic nourishment needed to thrive. Ending childhood hunger is an issue which transcends politics, said Governor OMalley. Its an issue that speaks to who we are as a people, to what kind of society we choose to be in the tough times when our shared efforts matter most, to what kind of society we choose to leave for future generations. When a child goes hungry anywhere in Maryland it impacts us all. Its all connected.
Share Our Strength is grateful that Governor OMalley has vowed to become the first governor in the nation to end childhood hunger in his state, said Bill Shore, founder and executive director of Share Our Strength. In just one year, the Partnership has ensured more kids in need receive school breakfast, summer meals and food stamps.
There are more than 152,000 children in Maryland living below poverty. Thousands more, though not poor by the federal definition, do not get enough to eat because Maryland is a high-cost state and nutritious food is too expensive for many households.
The Partnership will help reach children at risk of hunger in Maryland by increasing participation in highly effective but under-utilized federal food and nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), the Summer Food Service Program, School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. The Partnership will bring additional federal funds to the State of Maryland in order to increase enrollment and participation in existing programs.
Last year, the Partnership set a number of goals to increase participation in programs that help reach Maryland children in need. During the 2009 school year, the Partnerships goal was to increase by 20 percent the number of licensed childcare facilities participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which provides nutritious meals and snacks each day as part of their programs. In school year 2008 to 2009, an additional 28 centers participated.
In 2009, the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland hoped to increase the number of students who participate in the Summer Meals program by at least three percent. This summer, over 2.5 million meals were served under this program, representing an 11% increase in participation. In addition in May 2009, Maryland saw a 23.5% increase in the Food Supplement Program, reaching 117,881 more households in Maryland.
Last year, only 14.48 percent of Marylands school children received school breakfast each year. In School Year 2008 2009, an average of 131,632 breakfasts were served, serving an additional 8,735 children in Maryland schools every day, compared to the previous school year, a 7% increase compared to last year.
In addition, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) was added to the Partnership goal in June 2009. WICs goal is to increase the total number of persons participating in the WIC Program by 5%. This would result in an additional 7,199 persons enrolled, for a total of 151,179 eligible participants enrolled in the WIC program. As of October 2009, WIC has 149,426 participants enrolled, or 3,593 added since July 09. They have reached 98.6% of their goal in just 4 short months.
The Annapolis Child Care Center serves children ages two to five for 35 percent less than a traditional day care center. Forty-three percent of the centers families qualify for free or reduced meals, 26 percent receive DSS vouchers and 100 percent have made a commitment to their childs school readiness by making sure they are in a licensed, nurturing, and challenging program.
Governor OMalley has assigned the Governors Office for Children as the lead state agency in the Partnership. It is working with Share Our Strength®, the State Departments of Education, Human Resources, and Health and Mental Hygiene, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other key public and private organizations across the state.
The Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland includes a strong coalition of organizations and agencies on the national and local levels, representing the private and public sectors, including the school systems, the Maryland Food Bank, Advocates for Children and Youth, and MD Hunger Solutions/Food Research and Action Center to implement the action plan to end childhood hunger in Maryland.
About Share Our Strength®
Share Our Strength® is a national organization working to ensure no child in America grows up hungry. We weave together a net of community groups, activists and food programs to catch children at risk of hunger, and ensure they have nutritious food where they live, learn and play. We work with the culinary industry to create engaging, pioneering programs like Share Our Strengths Taste of the Nation®, Share Our Strengths Great American Bake Sale®, Share Our Strengths A Tasteful Pursuit®, Share Our Strengths Great American Dine Out, and Share Our Strengths Operation Frontline®. For more information, please visit Strength.org.
Source: Office of Governor O'Malley