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Breakfast In The Classroom

NEA HIN Breakfast in the Classroom partnership program

Have you ever wondered what a School Breakfast Hero looks like? Our new Breakfast in the Classroom video showcases National Education Association (NEA) members helping hungry students. Click on the video below to see these heroes in action!

The National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN), in partnership with the Food Research and Action Center, National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation, and School Nutrition Foundation – collectively known as Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom (PBIC) launched Breakfast in the Classroom, a $5 million initiative that aims to increase breakfast consumption among schoolchildren and spark the academic and nutritional gains associated with the morning meal. For more information, visit:

In January 2011, PBIC worked in five high-need school districts to help bring breakfast into the classroom. Those districts included: Dallas Independent School District, Texas; Little Rock School District, Ark.; Memphis City Schools, Tenn.; Orange County Public Schools, Fla. (including Orlando); and Prince George's County Public Schools, Md. The inaugural five districts that implemented Breakfast in the Classroom continue to see success with the program, and surpassed their combined initial goal of ensuring that more than 10,000 additional children received school breakfast each day.

In the 2012-2013 school year, PBIC is looking to expand their work into ten high-need school districts. To learn more about the new districts click here. For more information about how to increase breakfast participation in your district, visit:

  • School Nutrition Foundation's Breakfast Resource Center - The online resource has a wealth of ideas to help guide you in making the right choice for the children in your district. Access the Resource Center by clicking here.
  • Start School with Breakfast: A Guide to Increasing School Breakfast Participation - Developed in partnership by NEA HIN and Share Our Strength, this guide provides important information about the benefits of school breakfast, new ways to increase school breakfast participation, useful tools for advocates and success stories from other districts. Access the guide by clicking here.

Why school breakfast?

The research is clear: eating breakfast at school helps children perform better.  Studies of school breakfast programs have found that students who eat breakfast at school show improved academic achievement – especially in vocabulary, math and standardized tests – have better attendance records, are less likely to be tardy and exhibit fewer behavioral and psychological problems. Children who regularly eat breakfast also have a better quality of nutrient intake and are less likely to be overweight or obese.

Why aren't students participating in the School Breakfast Program?

Even with the numerous benefits of school breakfast, many children are not participating. In fact, according to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), less than half of low-income children who are eligible for free or reduced price breakfast are eating it. The reasons for low participation are varied; however schools have found that the most common reasons for low participation in traditional, cafeteria-based school breakfast programs are:

    • Lack of awareness about the program
    • Lack of time to eat breakfast due to bus or carpool schedules
    • Pressure to go directly to the classroom upon arrival to school
    • Social stigma that “only poor students” go to the cafeteria for breakfast before school

How Do I Increase Participation in the School Breakfast Program?

There are a variety of ways to increase participation in the school breakfast program including removing affordability barriers and using alternative food delivery models, that are described below. NEA HIN has also developed three resources you can use to raise awareness about the School Breakfast Program at your school.

Methods to Remove Affordability Barriers

  • Provision 2: An option in the federal School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program whereby schools can reduce the administrative and logistical burdens of providing free and reduced price meals to students. This option works best in schools with a high percentage of low-income students.

  • Eliminating Reduced Price Charges for Breakfast: A model where only free and full price breakfast is served, and students who would normally receive reduced-price meals instead receive a free meal. This model works best in schools with a high percentage of low income students and low participation of reduced price students.

  • Direct Certification: A model that allows schools to qualify children who participate in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program) and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) for free meals without further application.

For more information about provision 2, eliminating reduced price charges and direct certification visit the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website.

Alternative Service Models

There's more than one way to serve breakfast! Schools across the nation are serving breakfast in new creative ways that better meet the needs of students and can increase participation in the School Breakfast program. Click on the links below to get more information about each model.