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Landover, MD — William Paca Elementary will join students from every school district in Maryland in Hear the Maryland Crunch!, a state-wide, synchronized bite into an apple to raise awareness about the importance of school breakfast in the fight against childhood hunger. Through a partnership with the Prince George's County Food Equity Council, Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, Share Our Strength, Prince George’s County Public Schools, and Maryland Hunger Solutions, the event will take place during National School Breakfast Week on Thursday, March 10th, 2016 at William Paca Elementary School, 7801 Sheriff Rd, Landover, MD 20785 from 8:15 to 9:15 am.Beginning at 8:15 am, students at William Paca Elementary will enjoy creative educational programming from fellow students and staff about the importance of good nutrition and a healthy school breakfast and will countdown to the synchronized apple crunch at 9:15 am. Giant Food is sponsoring the event for the Landover school by providing over 700 apples, ensuring that every participating student and staff member has an apple to crunch.The school’s participation in the Crunch also highlights its impressive increases in school breakfast and lunch participation after electing the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for School Year 2015-2016. CEP provides federal funding to allow high-poverty schools to offer free school breakfast and lunch to all students—essentially becoming Hunger-Free Schools.William Paca Principal Dorothy Clowers shares that after her school elected CEP, “Our attendance has increased tremendously because every family knows their child has breakfast waiting at school. We recognize the positive impact healthy food has on the mind and the critical role school breakfast plays in academic success.”The Prince George’s County Food Equity Council, a local food policy council which advocated for Prince George’s County Public Schools to elect CEP, expresses excitement in William Paca’s success, “We’re thrilled to highlight the school’s increases in School Breakfast Program participation rates through the Community Eligibility Provision; rates increased from 69% to 79% of students taking advantage of the program in just one school year,” says Prince George’s County Food Equity Council Coordinator, Sydney Daigle. “Our County has a higher than (state) average rate of food insecurity. Healthy, free school meals make a tremendous impact on families’ food budgets and the health of students.”William Paca Elementary is located within one of County Executive Rushern L. Baker III’s Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative (TNI) communities. TNI@School offers students and families wraparound services that create protective environments for students, attend to their social, emotional, academic and behavioral health needs and connect families to community resources."It is important to remove the barriers to children receiving healthy meals, especially breakfast” says Gloria Brown, Director of the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, “there is a significant correlation between nutrition and academic performance. We are excited to partner with William Paca Elementary for the advances that they are making in this area.” The Department of Social Service operates various programs targeted at providing healthy meals to children of the County, including Mission: Nutrition, A Million Meals Project with the Peterson Companies, the Summer Food Program and the Food Supplement Program.“We are thrilled to see the momentum around school breakfast building. This support will culminate when thousands of students, teachers and partners throughout the state, including the entire Maryland Congressional delegation, join together at 9:15, just after the school bell, to Hear the Maryland Crunch,” said Michael J. Wilson, Director of Maryland Hunger Solutions. “If we are serious about improving the health and the lives of Marylanders – especially children--then improving participation in school breakfast is the place to start.”For more information about the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council, contact Sydney Daigle, Program Coordinator at 240-253-1036, visit www.pgcfec.org or email firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more information about TNI@School contact Whitney Pailin-Rhodes, Project Director at 301-909-7074 or email@example.com.For more information about the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services contact Shirley Schreffler, Special Assistant to the Director at 301-909-7074 or Shirley.Schreffler@maryland.gov.For more information about Hear the Maryland Crunch! contact Michael J. Wilson, Director of Maryland Hunger Solutions at 410-528-0021, ext 27 or firstname.lastname@example.org.