School Breakfast programs provide a first meal for many students. These programs decrease the amount of time between meals for students with low food access and/or security at home. School breakfast has been shown to increase attendance, decrease tardiness, and provide quality nutrition to students who may not have eaten since lunch the day before. Increasing access to a breakfast meal also benefits schools, because participating students have improved standardized test scores and lower behavioral disruptions during the day.
This meal can be federally reimbursed and qualifies for free and reduced pricing structures. Breakfast can be offered before school, in the classroom after the first bell, or at a specified break time during the school day. Program design differs with the needs and resources of the school and the community.
Breakfast programs require cafeteria workers or other food preparation workers to arrive before school, and, depending on the program design, buses may have to run earlier to bring kids to the cafeteria before school starts. Schools with limited labor resources or preparation space should evaluate what type of breakfast program works best for their school. Funding is available to assist with implementation of this model.
Some states have legislation about providing school breakfast and may provide funding and grants to help schools implement this program. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows schools to provide breakfast and lunch to all students for no cost. CEP reduces administrative burden and prevents student meal debt. Schools are eligible for CEP if at least 40% of students are certified for free meals without applying through household applications such as being from a household with SNAP or WIC.
Resources to Learn More
Breakfast Equipment Guide
Common implementation strategies and considerations for two different alternative breakfast models: Grab n' Go and Breakfast in the Classroom.
Organization(s): The Lunch Box
Breakfast for Health
Summarizes research findings related to the benefits of school breakfast programs. Includes an extensive list of additional resources and source documents.
Organization(s): Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
in the Classroom - District Tools
Useful tools for creating and evaluating breakfast in the classroom programs. Includes sample surveys and templates, focus group tips, information collection forms, and more.
Organization(s): Breakfast in the Classroom, Fighting Hunger Together
In a “Nutshell”:
Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) - Section 104 (s) HHFKA Understanding the Option
Overview of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which allows eligible schools to serve free breakfast and lunch to all students. Covers benefits of the program, considerations for schools, and frequently asked questions.
Organization(s): Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Informational website about the benefits of school breakfast programs and various methods of implementation.
Organization(s): No Kid Hungry Share Our Strength
School Breakfast After the
Bell: Equipping Students for Academic Success: Secondary School Principals Share What Works
Documents the experiences of 105 secondary school principals who have implemented breakfast after the bell programs. Includes survey results, tips for program success, and case study examples.
Organization(s): Food Research & Action Center; National Association of Secondary School Principals
School Breakfast Program (SBP)
Official government website for Food and Nutrition Service's School Breakfast Program.
Organization(s): U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service