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School breakfast challenges are great tools for generating awareness and buzz around increasing school breakfast, and identifying champions who support these efforts. They offer cash rewards or prizes to schools or districts that achieve the largest increases in participation.

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School Breakfast Challenge
Young elementary school boy sits at his school desk smiling big while opening his breakfast

Breakfast challenges can come in all shapes and sizes, but the more successful challenges will promote and provide support for Breakfast After the Bell models, such as Breakfast in the Classroom. Participation increases gained by schools during challenges are typically not sustained long-term unless significant changes are made to the breakfast program, such as implementing a Breakfast After the Bell program.

The structure and details of a challenge vary across states but they typically include these common elements:

  • Issued from the top – A typical challenge involves a champion--someone who has the prominence and authority to issue a challenge to the state, and the influence and credibility to inspire action. In many cases, a governor, first spouse or state superintendent issues a challenge.
  • Operates state-wide – Every school within the state has the opportunity to participate and receive resources and support to facilitate their efforts. 
  • Rewards success and recognizes efforts – Cash or other types of prizes for the largest increases in participation and recognition of participation on websites or through the media can help drive schools and districts to participate in the challenge.
  • Involves cross-sector collaboration – A successful challenge requires buy-in and participation from many stakeholders throughout the state and school system, including the state education agency, the governor’s office and private nonprofits and corporations. Together, these entities can provide funding, help with promotion, and offer technical assistance and other support to schools. Dairy Councils and No Kid Hungry campaigns have been sponsors and active partners in a number of challenges.

No Kid Hungry’s How to Launch a School Breakfast Challenge provides details about designing and implementing a successful challenge. You can also access resources from states challenges:

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