States and school districts have worked to expand access to breakfast through the following types of policy changes:
- Requiring Breakfast After the Bell models, such as Breakfast in the Classroom.
- Providing universally-free breakfast.
- Providing funding for start-up/expansion costs related to changing breakfast models.
- Providing an additional per-meal reimbursement.
- Requiring schools to offer breakfast.
- Eliminating the reduced-price category for meal reimbursement.
Effective Policies for Increasing Participation in School Breakfast Programs outlines the policy changes that states and districts can enact to increase school breakfast participation. It also describes common obstacles to these policy changes, such as lack of support from key decision makers, and strategies to overcome these obstacles.
States and school districts across the country—recognizing the importance of giving every child access to school breakfast—have passed laws requiring schools to make breakfast available after the bell has rung. Breakfast After the Bell Policy Solutions provides a snapshot of key Breakfast After the Bell policies and legislation across the country and the impact they have had on participation.
Breakfast After the Bell State Legislation
Six states have passed legislation requiring Breakfast After the Bell and have seen hugely positive impacts on participation, academic achievement and school meal program finances: Colorado, DC, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico and West Virginia. Based on lessons learned, Sample State Legislation: Breakfast After the Bell provides recommendations and considerations for drafting a Breakfast After the Bell requirement law based on the experiences of the states that have successfully passed this type of legislation.
Pending Legislation: Breakfast After the Bell Requirements
States actively pursuing Breakfast After the Bell Requirement legislation
|Massachusetts||2017||Requirement||H 327 was introduced on January 23rd, 2017.||Requires that breakfast be served after the bell in schools with at least 60% free and reduced price (FRP) eligibility.|
Passed Legislation: Breakfast After the Bell Requirements
States that have successfully passed Breakfast After the Bell Requirement legislation
|Colorado||2013||Requires Colorado schools with 80% or more students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals to offer Breakfast After the Bell to all students at no cost, access beginning in the 2014-15 school year. In the 2015-16 school year, schools with 70% or more qualifying students would have to comply. Schools that meet the CO Department of Education's definition of "small, rural school district" (1,000 students or less) will be exempt. Additional information can be found on Hunger Free Colorado’s website.|
|Delaware||2016||Requires all public and charter schools that participate in the Community Eligibility Provision to implement a Breakfast After the Bell model beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.|
|District of Columbia||2010||Requires that elementary schools with over 40% of students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals serve Breakfast in the Classroom while middle or high schools that meet this threshold must offer any innovative breakfast service model, such as Breakfast in the Classroom or Grab N’ Go. The Healthy Schools Act also removes the reduced-price co-payment. Additionally, the bill authorizes almost $4 million in annual funding to schools to implement the requirements of the legislation. In the 2010-11 school year, the bill provided $7 per student to schools for costs associated with starting an innovative school breakfast service model.|
|Illinois||2016||Requires that Breakfast After the Bell be served in schools with at least 70% free and reduced price (FRP) eligibility starting in school year 2017-2018.|
|Nevada||2015||Requires Breakfast After the Bell in schools with at least 70% free and reduced price eligibility. Provides $2 million over two years in the form of start-up grants to assist with the implementation of Breakfast After the Bell.|
|New Mexico||2014||Builds on previous Breakfast After the Bell legislation by expanding the requirement from elementary schools to all K-12 schools that have at least 85% of their students eligible for free or reduced-price meals.|
Increases school breakfast program participation by requiring innovative breakfast delivery models and creating local sources of funding for child nutrition programs.
School District Breakfast After the Bell Policies
School districts across the country have recognized the importance of breakfast, requiring all schools in their district to implement a Breakfast after the Bell model; most commonly requiring specific implementation of Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC.) These districts include Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and New York City. Working with school districts to require Breakfast After the Bell in all schools can be an effective tactic when statewide legislation is not an option.
Providing financial incentives to schools to implement Breakfast After the Bell is another effective advocacy tactic that states like Arkansas, Maryland and Virginia have taken. This type of model provides an additional per meal state funded reimbursement to schools that implement Breakfast After the Bell to encourage schools to adopt these models.
Passed Legislation: Supplemental Funding for Breakfast After the Bell
|Arkansas||2013||Authorizes the two-year pilot program, Arkansas Meals for Achievement, and provides $490,000 in State funding to provide grants to schools to implement alternative breakfast models.|
|Maryland||2017||The Maryland Meals for Achievement program has existed since 1998; providing selected elementary schools with 40% free or reduced-price eligible students state funding to provide Breakfast in the Classroom. In July 2017, the law was changed to allow secondary schools to be eligible for the program and allowing Grab and Go as a model option for these schools.|
|Virginia||2015||Governor McAuliffe’s Breakfast Amendment in the 2015-2016 budget includes a $537,000 ‘Breakfast after the Bell’ (BAB) Amendment that will provide schools with an additional $0.05 per breakfast served when using alternative breakfast models.|
Breakfast in the Classroom is the most effective Breakfast After the Bell model at increasing participation in school breakfast. However, one of the biggest challenges to getting schools to implement Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) is concern from teachers and principals about its impact on instructional time. Memos issued by state superintendents and laws passed by state legislatures have played important roles in supporting BIC efforts by clarifying that time spent eating breakfast in the classroom counts towards instructional time if accompanied by other education-related activities such as taking attendance, reading and collecting homework assignments. Instructional time memos have been passed in California, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Instructional time state legislation has been passed in Oregon.
The Breakfast Instructional Time Samples resource provides links to the language of these instructional time memos and also provides sample language for issuing an instructional time memo in your state.
One of the common barriers to Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) implementation is concerns about losing access to state funding. Many state education and other supportive funding is allocated based on free and reduced-price eligibility rates. Since CEP schools no longer collect free or reduced-price applications, concerns about losing access to this funding have deterred some schools from participating. States such as Maryland have passed legislation clarifying how these state funding formulas can be modified to account for the student populations in CEP schools and allow them to continue to receive these funds.
Another barrier to CEP participation is schools not qualifying due to low direct certification rates. Increasing the number of directly certified students allows more schools to qualify for CEP and minimizes the number of children that are required to complete applications to receive free school meals. California passed a law in 2017 to develop and implement a process to use Medicaid participation data to directly certify qualifying children for free school meals.
Not everyone has the political support needed to pass state legislation to require or fund Breakfast After the Bell. However, state policy levers can still be used to make changes to support breakfast expansion efforts. Do you need a formal mechanism to form a coalition to build support for a future Breakfast After the Bell legislation? Would having better access to data help you to understand the need and ways to address low breakfast participation in your state? All of these can be addressed by passing state legislation.
Passed Legislation: Other Breakfast Policies
|Arkansas||2017||Commissions a study to evaluate the need for school-level nutrition data, the impact of providing Breakfast After the Bell, and the impact of CEP and other models on school breakfast participation.|
|Illinois||2015||Encourages schools to utilize Breakfast After the Bell models and encourages the Illinois Commission to End Hunger to provide a report showing the potential impact of Breakfast After the Bell models on high need schools.|
|Maine||2014||Establishes the Task Force to End Child Hunger in Maine.|
|New Jersey||2014||Promotes the adoption of Breakfast After the Bell models and requires the state to track breakfast participation at the school level as well as the manner in which breakfast is served.|
A Breakfast Resolution can be an effective way to highlight the need for school breakfast expansion in the state, establish a record of who supports school breakfast expansion and identify legislators who champion breakfast. It can be a useful first step towards future Breakfast After the Bell advocacy efforts. Language can also be included to create a breakfast coalition or provide access to data. The Sample State Legislation: Breakfast Resolutions resource provides example language and options for constructing a Breakfast Resolution.
State legislation is not the only option for establishing breakfast support. Education leaders at the federal and state levels can also take action to pass policy memos expressing the importance of breakfast and demonstrating support for Breakfast After the Bell. When education leaders actively encourage schools to implement Breakfast After the Bell models, it sends a strong message to schools about the importance of school breakfast expansion. Examples include Secretary Duncan's Breakfast After the Bell Memo and New Jersey's Breakfast After the Bell Memo.