The School Breakfast Program provides millions of children a nutritious morning meal each school day. School breakfast is a critical support for struggling families trying to stretch limited resources and provides children a significant portion of the nutrition they need to learn and be healthy.

Quick Facts: 2016–2017 School Year

  • 12.2 million low-income children participated in the School Breakfast Program on a typical day.
  • 92.5 percent of schools serving lunch also served breakfast.
  • 56.6 low-income children participated in school breakfast for every 100 that participated in school lunch.

From FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard and School Breakfast: Making it Work in Large School Districts.

School Breakfast Events

Register for FRAC’s School Breakfast Program conference calls and webinars.
Subscribe to the Meals Matter: School Breakfast Newsletter.

Any public school, nonprofit private school, or residential child care institution can participate in the School Breakfast Program and receive federal funds for each breakfast served. The program is administered at the federal level by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and in each state typically through the department of education or agriculture.

To find out the agency that administers the program in your state, check USDA’s list of state administering agencies.

Follow this link to USDA guidance on the School Breakfast Program.

Explore These Topics

  • Benefits of School Breakfast
    Starting the day with a healthy school breakfast ensures that children have the nutrition they need to learn and thrive. A wide body of research supports the health and educational benefits of participation in the School Breakfast Program. Find out more about the research.
  • School Breakfast Expansion Strategies
    The most successful strategies for increasing school breakfast participation are to serve breakfast after the bell and offer free breakfast to all students in high-poverty schools. Find out how to make these strategies work in your state or community.
  • Community Eligibility Provision
    Community eligibility allows high-poverty schools and districts offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students and realize significant administrative savings. Many schools have opted to combine community eligibility with proven models like breakfast in the classroom, to boost breakfast participation.

    Learn more about community eligibility and search our database of schools to find out if schools in your state or community are eligible and participating.

  • State School Breakfast Legislation
    States have passed a variety of types of legislation to increase school breakfast participation, including legislation for Breakfast in the Classroom. Find out more.
  • State Advocacy Opportunities
    State and local advocacy can have a dramatic impact on school breakfast participation — whether it is passing legislation to support school breakfast expansion, raising awareness of low participation rates in your state, or working to bring stakeholders together to support expansion of breakfast in the classroom. Advocates across the country have implemented these effective strategies to boost breakfast participation in their states and communities. Find out more.
  • Eligibility and Reimbursements
    Low-income children are eligible to receive meals for free or at a reduced-price based of their household income or participation in other government programs, such as SNAP. Find out more about how children are certified for free and reduced-price school meals.
  • Serving Breakfast in Rural School Districts
    School breakfast is particularly important for low-income students in rural communities who are more likely than their peers in metropolitan areas to live in food-insecure households, and, who often face additional barriers to accessing the program. Learn more in our fact sheet: School Breakfast in Rural Communities – Get the Facts.
  • Breakfast for Learning Education Alliance
    The purpose of the Breakfast for Learning Education Alliance is to inform our members, affiliates, and networks about the important educational benefits of school breakfast and to promote the broader implementation of proven strategies to increase school breakfast participation, such as breakfast in the classroom.

    Breakfast for Learning Education Alliance Statement of Support

    Partner-Developed Resources:

    Co-developed with The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the “Breakfast Blueprint” is a guide focused on breakfast after the bell programs — such as breakfast in the classroom, “grab and go” breakfast, and second chance breakfast — because they are increasingly popular, are well-researched, and have successfully helped schools and districts improve students’ access to nutritious foods.

    Co-developed with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), this report highlights the experiences of 105 secondary school principals from 67 districts that have integrated breakfast as a part of the school day by implementing a breakfast after the bell program, and provides insights into program benefits and best practices regarding how to launch a similar program.

    Co-developed with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), this toolkit provides guidance to principals in how to effectively partner with their school nutrition department to bring “grab and go” breakfast, second-chance breakfast, or breakfast in the classroom programs to their schools.

    Co-developed with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, this report provides guidance for principals interested in implementing Breakfast in the Classroom at their schools, and insights into the leadership they can provide to build a strong and sustainable program.

    Co-developed with the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA), this resource provides school social workers with research and information to advocate for breakfast after the bell programs in their schools.

    Co-developed with the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), this resource provides school nurses with research and information to advocate for breakfast after the bell programs in their schools.


Breakfast After the Bell in Colorado
In 2013, the Colorado General Assembly passed a law requiring schools with 80 percent free and reduced-price eligible children to offer free breakfast after the bell starting in the 2014–2015 school year. The mandate then expanded to all schools with 70 percent free and reduced-price certified students. According to the latest data, the mandate is working. In the 2014–2015 school year, almost 10 percent more low-income children participated in school breakfast than in the previous school year.
In the States
Find out more about what states have passed legislation to expand and support school meals.

Mapping School Breakfast: Participation, Funding, and Growth

Check out FRAC’s interactive map highlighting program participation and grant funding data to serve as a tool to expand school breakfast participation at the state and local level.

View the map