FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEFebruary 20, 2012Contact: Ariane Holm | email@example.com | C: 571-213-6465 | O: 202-649-4350Bryan Voltaggio’s Statement on Maryland State Department of Education – Aid to Education BudgetHouse Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and Economic DevelopmentSUPPORTANNAPOLIS, MD (February 20, 2012) - Bryan Voltaggio, Chef and Co-Owner of VOLT Restaurant, and members of the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland, testified today in support of Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA), a school breakfast program at the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Education and Economic Development Hearing, at the Lowe House Office Building. Following is his statement in support:“As a chef, I understand the importance of nutritious food in people’s lives, and as a father, I am even more keenly aware of what a square meal means to my children. I became involved with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign – which is creatively fighting childhood hunger in Maryland and across the U.S. – because I simply can’t stand the reality that children in this country go hungry. In our state, the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland, a public private partnership led by Governor O’Malley, is connecting more children and families to nutrition programs through outreach and reducing barriers that keep them from participating.When Share Our Strength polled teachers across America in 2011, nearly two-thirds said they taught children who regularly came to school hungry because they did not get enough to eat at home; 65 percent also said that most or a lot of their students relied on school meals as their primary source of nutrition. Simply stated, school nutrition programs provide vital assistance to children and families who may not be able to provide meals at home.One of the most effective and innovative programs we have in this state to ensure that our kids have the nutrition they need to be successful is Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA), which provides free in-classroom breakfast for all children in 228 high-need schools. Included are seven schools in Frederick County, my home. 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 within participating schools. This is important because studies have shown that students who start their day with a nutritious breakfast demonstrate improved academic performance.However, despite the program’s success, there are still more than 500 schools in Maryland who meet the eligibility requirements for MMFA but will not be funded this school year due to budget limitations. That is why I was so pleased to see that Governor O’Malley included an additional $560,000 in funding for MMFA in his fiscal year 2013 budget. This increased investment will allow the program to reach an estimated 45 additional schools and provide thousands of our most vulnerable children with breakfast every morning, giving them the fuel they need for academic success.There are few things more important than ensuring our children have what they need to be successful. As a father and as a chef, I feel a responsibility to do what I can to ensure that kids never have to worry where their next meal will come from. In these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever to support programs like MMFA that provide vital assistance for families who are struggling. I respectfully request you support MSDE’s Aid to Education Budget, which allocates additional funding for MMFA, and will provide more of our children with both a nutritious start to their day and the promise of a bright and healthy future. “Sincerely,Bryan VoltaggioChef and Co-OwnerVOLT Restaurant
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