Bridging the Gap:

Creating Pathways
to Student Success
with Breakfast After the Bell



Something powerful is happening in school districts across New York State.

School leaders are taking action to ensure more students are eating school breakfast. It is a simple solution to a complex issue. Hunger affects one in five children in New York. A robust body of research supports what educators and school officials see every day in New York’s schools: hunger has a profound impact on children’s physical, emotional and mental development. The federally funded School Breakfast Program provides schools with a powerful tool to safeguard children from the impact of hunger and ensures that no child starts the school day hungry.

On average, fewer than one in three low-income students ate free or reduced-price breakfast during the 2017-2018 school year. School leaders are starting to look at school breakfast participation as an indicator of whether or not they are meeting students’ basic needs. Schools are responding to low school breakfast participation by adopting best practices to improve student access to the program.

Many find that a traditional school breakfast program—served in the cafeteria before the start of the school day—does not reach the students who need this morning meal the most. Improving student access is accomplished through two key steps:

  • Offering Breakfast After the Bell, where schools provide breakfast after the start of the instructional day
  • Providing universal school breakfast, where schools provide breakfast to all students at no charge

Those proven strategies overcome timing and stigma—barriers common to a traditional school breakfast program—and have driven growth in the School Breakfast Program over the past decade.

School breakfast participation is linked to numerous health and educational benefits, including reduced food insecurity, improved dietary intake, better test scores, calmer classrooms, stronger attendance and graduation rates, and improved student health. Recognizing those connections, a growing number of school administrators, school nutrition directors, and educators are working with anti-hunger advocates and other stakeholders to increase school breakfast participation in their school districts with Breakfast After the Bell programs.