Of all Maryland counties, Washington County has the fifth-highest number of schools participating in the program. Counties that have more schools participating are Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George's.
By state law, at least 40 percent of the students enrolled in a school must be eligible for free or reduced-price meals for the school to qualify for the Maryland Meals for Achievement program, according to a press release.
Bill Reinhard, spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education, said he does not know why all students are offered the meal, instead of just those living in poverty. He said the law has been around "a long time," but he does not know the motivation behind it.
"Certainly, it's an academic preparedness program," Reinhard said. "All students need to eat. All students at the school can benefit from the program."
For the 2008-09 school year, 671 schools statewide qualified for the MMFA Program; 245 of them applied for funding.
The only county school added since last year was E. Russell Hicks Middle. Proulx said 50 percent of students there live in poverty.
"There's no lack of studies that show that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but unfortunately not all students are offered that at home," he said.
Proulx said breakfasts are offered to all students, but those who have eaten at home or who do not want the food may decline. He said students eat the breakfasts in their classrooms when the school day begins.
The meal typically includes reduced-sugar cereals, whole grain muffins, cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, granola bars, cinnamon rolls, crackers, milk and 100 percent juices.
Schools Offering free breakfast
The following Washington County schools will offer free breakfasts for children of all income levels during the 2008-09 school year:
E. Russell Hicks Middle
Marshall Street Education Center
Potomac Heights Elementary
Salem Avenue Elementary
South Hagerstown High
Washington County Family Center
Washington County Job Development Center
Western Heights Middle
Winter Street Elementary