School Breakfast Program

The federally funded School Breakfast Program provides nutritious morning meals to more than half a million New York State public school students each school day.

School Breakfast reduces hunger!

School breakfast is a proven strategy to reduce hunger by providing critical support for struggling families trying to stretch limited resources and providing children a significant portion of the nutrition they need to learn and be healthy.


However, many students are missing out…

Over half a million public school students eat school breakfast in New York State. But over two-thirds of students from low-income households – those who need is most – are missing out on this morning meal. Timing, convenience, and stigma all contribute to low school breakfast participation.


The key to strong breakfast participation is access.

Once access to breakfast is increased, breakfast participation will soar. Best practice for increasing access includes two key strategies: offering breakfast after the bell and offering free breakfast to all students. Schools that offer breakfast at no cost to all students have higher breakfast participation, especially when breakfast is served in the classroom.

NY School Breakfast Day is September 25!


Bridging the Gap: Reaching Underserved Students with Breakfast After the Bell

Read our 2020 school breakfast report findings on school breakfast participation, and learn how Breakfast After the Bell can help more low-income kids start the day ready to learn with a healthy breakfast. 

Removing Barriers to School Breakfast

   Breakfast After the Bell

A wide body of research shows that offering breakfast after the official start of the school day— also referred to as Breakfast After the Bell—is the most effective means to increase participation and achieve the gains in academic success linked to school breakfast consumption. Schools can offer Breakfast After the Bell by implementing the alternative breakfast service model such as breakfast in the classroom, “grab and go” breakfast, and second chance breakfast.

  Universal School Breakfast

Traditional school breakfast — where some children pay, depending on family income — creates a sense among children that the program is just “for poor kids.” This deters participation by children from all income groups. Free breakfast for all students ends the stigma, boosts participation, especially among the vulnerable children who need it most, and eliminates the burden of collecting fees.

Breakfast After the Bell Legislation

Across our state, students are missing out on school breakfast. Some have school buses that arrive too late. Some want to avoid the stigma of being labeled as the “poor kid” who goes to the cafeteria before school for free breakfast. Some don’t even know that their school offers breakfast. As a result, tens of thousands of kids missed the chance to start their school days fed, focused and ready to learn. This winter, the Governor proposed a plan to change that.

In April 2018, New York State passed school breakfast legislation requiring schools with 70% or more of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals to implement Breakfast After the Bell. This evidence-based approach increases breakfast participation by offering breakfast after the start of the school day.

School districts have a choice to implement the Breakfast After the Bell model that would best suit the needs of their schools. Models include, but are not limited to, breakfast in the classroom, grab and go, second chance breakfast, and breakfast vending.

The state FY18-19 budget allocated $7 million in funding to cover start-up cost for all 1,386 impacted schools. Anti-hunger advocates are also prepared to provide additional support with implementation by offering resources, best practices, targeted grants, and individualized technical assistance to districts at no cost.

Once Breakfast After the Bell programs are successfully implemented, they are self-sustaining due to strong participation among free and reduced-price eligible students yielding higher federal and state reimbursements.

Learn more here.

Breakfast After the Bell Legislation flyer

Printable pdf of our flyer explaining the new legislation

School Breakfast Benefits Children and Schools!

The School Breakfast Program reduces hunger and supports student health and academic achievement. Studies show serving breakfast after the start of the school day in classrooms reduces absenteeism, disciplinary issues, and eliminates the stigma that school breakfast is for poor kids.

School Breakfast Program Basics

  • At the federal level, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service administers the School Breakfast Program. The New York State Education Department administers it at the state level.
  • Any public, nonprofit private, and residential child-care institution can operate the School Breakfast Program to provide breakfast to students.
  • Any student attending a school that offers the program can eat breakfast, but students must meet certain criteria to qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
  • All meals must meet federal nutrition guidelines, which include fruits and/or vegetables, a whole-grain-rich item, a meat or meat alternative, and low-fat/non-fat milk. Meal nutrition standards also limit calories and sodium.
  • Schools receive state, and federal reimbursement for each breakfast served. The reimbursement amount varies based on a student’s qualification for free, reduced-price, or paid meals.

Download our School Breakfast Program Basics factsheet


We can help.

We work with school and government leaders, and organizations statewide to help increase access to the School Breakfast Program. We:

  • Provide one-on-one assistance to schools to increase participation through the implementation of alternative breakfast service models.
  • Engage education stakeholders and establish partnerships with statewide/regional organizations to promote the SBP and strategies to increase participation.
  • Analyze participation in the SBP, research and disseminate program updates, track participation trends, and gather best practices.

Email [email protected] for more information.