What the Research Says

The Research Behind School Breakfast

No Kid Hungry logoDespite the benefits of school breakfast, it is often underutilized. There are several barriers that may prevent students from eating school breakfast when it’s served in the cafeteria before the official start of the school day:

  • Students arriving late to school due to bus or carpool schedules;
  • Stigma that school breakfast is for low-income students;
  • Many students may not be hungry first thing in the morning;
  • Students prefer to socialize rather than eat alone in the morning.

Breakfast After the Bell (BAB), where breakfast is served after the official start of the school day, addresses those barriers and is one of the most effective ways to significantly boost school breakfast participation. BAB shifts the time breakfast is served so that it’s a part of the school day and moves breakfast from the cafeteria to where students are, like classrooms and common areas.

Studies have shown that offering breakfast in the classroom not only increases participation in the
breakfast program, but it also can reduce absenteeism and tardiness, as well as boost academic
achievement. Read this Research Brief from the Food Research & Action Center. Some key highlights are below.

Millions of kids in America don’t get enough food at home. 1 out of 6 kids struggle with hunger. There are hungry kids in every kind of community, from big cities to rural towns to wealthy suburbs.

Hungry children cannot learn. Childhood hunger negatively affects health, academic achievement and future economic prosperity. Students who eat school breakfast have been shown to miss less school, get better grades and are more likely to graduate high school. The Social Impact Analysis conducted by No Kid Hungry and Deloitte connects outcomes from the School Breakfast Program with long-term benefits.

Breakfast After the Bell reaches more students than traditional cafeteria breakfast. Fewer than half of the kids who get a free or reduced-price school lunch, on average, get a free or reduced-price breakfast. Multiple barriers prevent students from getting traditional cafeteria breakfast (before the bell), including buses arriving late at school; stigma that school breakfast is for “poor” kids; students preferring to socialize instead of eat; and the cafeteria not being conveniently located for students. Making breakfast a part of the school day addresses all of those barriers and enables more kids to start the day with a healthy meal.

School breakfast is a balanced breakfast. Kids who eat school breakfast are more likely to have a better overall diet, eating more fruits, dairy and a variety of foods. Any food items served at breakfast must meet strict dietary guidelines created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Menu items rotate to provide variety, but a school breakfast always includes milk, fruit and whole grains. Learn more about how healthy school breakfast is.