Schools are one of the most effective ways we can help vulnerable children in the United States, from providing the lasting power of education to meals and necessary social services. Schools can only help students, however, if they show up. Nearly 8 million students are missing at least three weeks of the school year, making them chronically absent. Chronic absenteeism can lead reduced student achievement, an increased likelihood of dropping out and a greater risk of becoming unemployed adults.
The No Kid Hungry campaign commissioned a study examining whether serving breakfast after the bell as a regular part of the school day can reduce chronic absenteeism. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara, included an analysis of state-level and national data.
- A Study on Chronic Absenteeism and Breakfast After the Bell has two resources:
- The Microreport is a four-page brochure that provides a snapshot of the University of California Santa Barbara's study. The study found that Breakfast After the Bell can reduce chronic absenteeism by an average of 6 percentage points.
- The Research Brief provides a detailed summary of the University of California Santa Barbara's study. This brief is geared towards those who wish to dive more deeply into the research.
The simple act of feeding kids a healthy school breakfast can be associated with dramatic impacts, including positive outcomes in education and well-being. A report by Deloitte also found that schools that serve Breakfast After the Bell have higher breakfast participation, lower absenteeism and improved test scores. Better performance and attendance at school can lead to greater job-readiness and self-sufficiency after high school.
- The No Kid Hungry Starts with Breakfast brochure provides a brief overview of Deloitte’s analysis of the long-term benefits of school breakfast.
- Ending Childhood Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis is the full report from Deloitte's analysis that demonstrates the potential long-term impact of the school breakfast program. .
Educators have first-hand knowledge of the challenges their students face, including a lack of adequate food, and often have a front-row seat to seeing improvements in students who do eat a healthy breakfast. Educators across the country report children coming to school hungry and acknowledge the importance of breakfast. Educators support Breakfast After the Bell and see the benefits it can have on children.
- Hunger in Our Schools 2017 showcases the voices and perspectives of educators across the country and documents the hunger they see in their classrooms. Three-quarters of school teachers say students regularly come to school hungry and that this negatively impacts their students and classroom. Teachers who implemented breakfast in the classroom report a positive effect on student behavior and readiness to learn.
- NYC Teacher Survey Summary Memo reports that two-thirds of NYC teachers say students coming to class hungry is a major problem at their school. Nearly nine in ten teachers say breakfast is important for students’ academic achievement. Recognizing the tremendous impact that breakfast could have on student health and academic achievement, eight in ten teachers support having breakfast in the classroom in their schools.
- IL Teacher Survey Microreport shows that three in four public school teachers in Illinois see children come hungry to school at least once a month and say that without breakfast, children’s academic performance and health suffer. Two-thirds of teachers overwhelmingly support school-provided breakfast in the classroom as a solution to child hunger, and three-quarters of teachers who currently participate in the program say it has been a positive experience.
Parents recognize the importance of a healthy breakfast. Gathering parent perspectives on how to market the school breakfast program can boost participation.
- NYC School Focus Group Findings: Advocacy Case Study provides a summary of the results from a school breakfast focus group with New York City parents. Parents provided their feedback on what would make children more likely to participate.
- NYC School Focus Groups Lessons Learned: This two-page document identifies key takeaways from focus groups with parents about the best ways to market school breakfast, including what information would be helpful for parents, the precise language that parents respond to and the preferred channels for communication.