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School Breakfast

School Breakfast Program Policy

Policy change is an important tool for achieving sustainable, widespread change and school breakfast program policy is an area ripe for advocacy.  Through state legislation or district policy, states and localities have taken steps to increase participation in school breakfast, including:

  • Requiring innovative breakfast program 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.


Resources on School Breakfast Policy

Effective Policies for Increasing Participation in School Breakfast Programs - This policy brief provides a background on the various policy options to consider related to school breakfast as well as examples of successful school breakfast policy enacted in New Mexico and Washington DC.

Case Studies 


Model School Breakfast Legislation/Policy

The links below provide examples of the different types of state and local policies that have been enacted to expand alternative breakfast models.


2014 State Legislation 


In March 2014, the Senate unanimously passed SB 128, which eases implementation of the Community Eligibility Provision in Maryland schools by altering the enrollment counting procedures for state educational funding.  The bill did not move forward in the House.

In April 2014, the Maryland Legislature approved the state budget including Governor O'Malley's proposal increase the budget for Maryland Meals for Achievement by $1.7m for the 2015 fiscal year.  This additional funding will enable an estimated 40,000 more students to start their day ready to learn. 


LR 532 was introduced in March 2014 and would establish a study to examine utilization of school breakfast and lunch and the impact of community eligibility.

LB 834 would provide school districts who implement an alternative breakfast model a one time incentive grant, based upon school enrollment, from $2000 to $5000.

The legislative session ended without either of these bills passing.

New Jersey

In March 2014, the Assembly passed A679, which is now referred to the Senate Education Committee.  The bill would promote the adoption of alternative breakfast models, such as breakfast in the classroom, and would require the state to track which breakfast participation at the school level as well as the manner in which breakfast is served. 

New Mexico

In March 2014, Republican Governor Susana Martinez signed HB 271, which 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.


Legislators in the State of Washington introduced legislation, House Bill 2536, to establish a four-year, phased-in process of expanding breakfast after the bell in high need schools.  The bill also dedicates staff support within the state agency for assistance in implementation.  The legislative session ended without the bill being passed.

Recently Enacted State Legislation


SB 428 was passed by the Arkansas legislature and signed into law by Governor Beebe.  The bill authorizes funding for the Arkansas Department of Education to implement innovative breakfast programs.


House Bill 1006 passed the Colorado Legislature and was signed by the Governor.  The bill requires Colorado schools with 80% or more students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals to offer a nutritious after-the-bell breakfast program with all-student 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.


Senate Bill 376 (Rodriguez) was signed into law by Governor Perry on May 24, 2013. SB 376 requires schools to offer a free breakfast to all students if the school has 80 percent or more its students who qualify for free/reduced-price meals.  The bill allows schools to request a waiver for one year after a public hearing and only if approved by a vote.

West Virginia

AB 663, the Feed to Achieve Act, passed with bipartisan support.  It increases school breakfast program participation by expanding innovative breakfast delivery models and creating local sources of funding for child nutrition programs.

Supporting school breakfast initiatives