School Breakfast

About School Breakfast 

The School Breakfast Program (SBP) operates in schools and residential child care institutions.  At the federal level, it is administered by the USDA Food and Nutrition Services.  State education agencies or agriculture departments typically administer the program at the state level, while local school food authorities operate it in schools.  Established in 1966 as a pilot program, the SBP was permanently authorized in 1975.

The School Breakfast Program operates much like the National School Lunch Program.  Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the Federal poverty level are eligible for free meals; those from families with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals.  USDA reimburses schools for breakfasts served.  Reimbursement rates for school year July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016 are found here.

Schools that qualify as “severe need” receive an additional $0.30 for each free or reduced-price breakfast served.  Reimbursable meals must meet federal nutrition standards.  USDA recently updated these nutrition standards and these changes go into effect for school breakfast in the 2013-14 school year. 


Breakfast After the Bell Models

One of the most effective ways to significantly boost school breakfast participation is to make it part of the school day.  Traditional school breakfast programs often operate too early for students to participate, particularly if bus or carpool schedules do not enable them to get there on time.  Breakfast After the Bell models that have proven to be successful in expanding access to school breakfast are described below.  Many schools operate a hybrid model that combines certain elements of the models described below.

Breakfast in the Classroom

Breakfast in the Classroom is a service delivery model where students eat breakfast in their classroom after the official start of the school day. Students or staff may deliver breakfasts to classrooms from the cafeteria via coolers or insulated rolling bags, or school nutrition staff can serve breakfast from mobile carts in the hallways.  Breakfast in the Classroom typically takes 10 – 15 minutes and can happen during morning tasks such as attendance or it can be integrated with other instructional activities.  Some schools encourage teachers to participate in the program and eat with their students.

Grab n’ Go

Grab n’ Go is a service delivery model where students pick up conveniently packaged breakfasts from mobile service carts in high traffic areas, such as hallways, entryways or cafeterias, when they arrive at school or between classes. Students can eat in the cafeteria, the classroom or elsewhere on school grounds.  The Grab n’ Go model is often used in middle and high schools because it is so flexible and can accommodate varying schedules and students who are on the move.

Second Chance Breakfast

Second Chance Breakfast refers to a meal service model where students eat breakfast during a break in the morning, often after first period or midway between breakfast and lunch. Schools can serve breakfast in the same manner as they would with traditional Grab n’ Go breakfast.  This model can be particularly effective for older students who may not be hungry first thing in the morning or may opt to hang out with friends.  Second Chance Breakfast may be referred to by a variety of names, such as Breakfast After First Period, School Brunch or Mid-Morning Nutrition Break.

Breakfast Vending

Breakfast Vending allows students to access breakfast foods though vending machines. This model is most often implemented in high schools and vending machines are usually only available prior to the start of the school day.

For more information: USDA School Breakfast Expansion Strategies at

Supporting school breakfast initiatives