The Maryland State Department of Education has awarded $6.9 million in state funds to allow more students — regardless of family income — to start their school day eating breakfast.

The money for the Maryland Meals for Achievement Program will be given to 481 schools throughout the state, including 84 schools in Prince George’s County and 74 schools in Montgomery County.

State officials estimate that nearly 241,000 students will participate in the MMFA program with help from the federal breakfast program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Three out of five public school teachers say they regularly see students who come to school hungry, according to No Kid Hungry, a campaign by the nonprofit group Share Our Strength.

A 2008 Harvard School of Public Health study that looked at the impact of school breakfast on a child’s health and learning found that children who do not “get sufficient dietary energy, particularly in the mornings, their cognitive capacity is impaired: their brains do not have sufficient fuel for attention, concentration and learning.”

State officials credit the MMFA program with helping to improve student test scores and behavior.

“Having access to a healthy, nutritious breakfast prepares students for their academic day and ensures they start the school day ready to learn,” State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery said in a statement.