1. What is the School
The School Breakfast
Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in public
and nonprofit private schools and residential child care
institutions. It began as a pilot project in 1966, and was made
permanent in 1975.
The School Breakfast
Program is administered at the Federal level by the Food and
Nutrition Service. At the State level, the program is usually
administered by State education agencies, which operate the
program through agreements with local school food authorities in
more than 78,000 schools and institutions.
2. How does the School
Breakfast Program work?
The School Breakfast
Program operates in the same manner as the National School Lunch
Program. Generally, public or nonprofit private schools of high
school grade or under and public or nonprofit private
residential child care institutions may participate in the
School Breakfast Program. School districts and independent
schools that choose to take part in the breakfast program
receive cash subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) for each meal they serve. In return, they must serve
breakfasts that meet Federal requirements, and they must offer
free or reduced price breakfasts to eligible children.
3. What are the
nutritional requirements for school breakfasts?
must meet the applicable recommendations of the Dietary
Guidelines for Americans which recommend that no more than 30
percent of an individualís calories come from fat, and less
than 10 percent from saturated fat. In addition, breakfasts must
provide one-fourth of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for
protein, calcium, iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and calories. The
decisions about what specific food to serve and how they are
prepared are made by local school food authorities.
4. How do children
qualify for free and reduced price breakfasts?
Any child at a
participating school may purchase a meal through the School
Breakfast Program. Children from families with incomes at or
below 130 percent of the Federal poverty level are eligible for
free meals. Those with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the
poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals. (For the
period July 1, 2003, through June 30, 2004, 130 percent of the
poverty level is $23,920 for a family of four; 185 percent is
$34,040.) Children from families over 185 percent of poverty pay
full price, though their meals are still subsidized to some
5. How much
reimbursement do schools get?
Most of the support
USDA provides to schools in the School Breakfast Program comes
in the form of a cash reimbursement for each breakfast served.
The current (July 1, 2003 through June 30, 2004) basic cash
reimbursement rates are:
Schools may qualify
for higher "severe need" reimbursements if a specified
percentage of their lunches are served free or at a reduced
price. Severe need payments are up to 23 cents higher than the
normal reimbursements for free and reduced-price breakfasts.
About 65 percent of the breakfasts served in the School
Breakfast Program receive severe need payments.
rates are in effect for Alaska and Hawaii.
Schools may charge
no more than 30 cents for a reduced-price breakfast. Schools set
their own prices for breakfasts served to students who pay the
full meal price (paid), though they must operate their meal
services as non-profit programs.
6. What other
support do schools get from USDA?
Nutrition, USDA provides schools with technical training and
assistance to help school food service staffs prepare healthy
meals, and with nutrition education to help children understand
the link between diet and health.
7. How many children
have been served over the years?
In Fiscal Year 2001,
an average of 7.8 million children participated every day. That
number grew to 8.2 million in Fiscal Year
2002. Of those, 6.7 million received their meals free or at a
slowly but steadily grown over the years: 1970: 0.5 million
children; 1975: 1.8 million children; 1980: 3.6 million
children; 1985: 3.4 million children; 1990: 4.1 million
children; 1995: 6.3 million children.
8. How much does the
For Fiscal Year 2003, Congress appropriated $1.68 billion for the School
Breakfast Program, up from $1.54 billion in Fiscal Year 2002.
The cost in previous
years: 1970: cost of $ 10.8 million: 1975: cost of $ 86.1
million; 1980: cost of $287.8 million; 1985: cost of $379.3
million; 1990: cost of $ 596.2 million; 1995: cost of $1.05
For information on the
operation of the School Breakfast Program and all the Child
Nutrition Programs, contact the State agency in your state that is
responsible for the administration of the programs. A listing of
all our State agencies may be found on our web site at www.fns.usda.gov/cnd
, select "Contacts".
You may also contact
us through the office of USDA, Food and Nutrition Service, Public
Information Staff at 703-305-2286, or by mail at 3101 Park Center
Drive, Room 914, Alexandria, Virginia 22302.