National School Breakfast Program

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The National School Breakfast Program is a federally funded nutrition program that provides reimbursement to public schools, non-profit private schools, and residential child care institutions that serve breakfast. The program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Participating schools must comply with federal nutrition standards and make breakfast available to all children.


The National School Breakfast Program functions in the same way as the National School Lunch Program. Depending on family income, a child may be eligible for a free or reduced-price meal. Those who do not qualify for either of these options may pay for a low cost morning meal. All students are welcome to eat breakfast at school. No advance sign-up is necessary.

Why serve breakfast at school?

Many kids in grades K-12 skip breakfast at home. Often children and parents feel too rushed in the morning to prepare something to eat. Some children are not hungry until they have been awake for several hours. Other students sadly do not have enough food at home for a morning meal. No matter what the reason, students who do not eat breakfast are often hungry by the time their first class begins.


For those who do not have the time, appetite, or household income necessary to eat before arriving at school, school breakfast provides an excellent opportunity for students to start the day with a healthy morning meal. A good breakfast gives children the energy they need to succeed in school. Studies show that children who eat a good breakfast every day learn better, behave better, and perform better in class than children who do not eat breakfast. In fact, students who eat school breakfast regularly have been found to have higher math grades, less absenteeism and tardiness, and fewer emotional and behavioral problems.


There are a variety of ways to serve breakfast at school. The model that works best for a particular school will depend on a number of considerations, including the percentage of children at the school that is eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, the availability of cafeteria space and staff, the school’s start time, and the morning bus schedule and drop off time.