Free School Breakfast Expands Citywide in Chicago, IL

Last Published: 06/21/2013

Chicago student eating her school breakfast

Chicago student eating her school breakfast Feb. 25, 2011 -- Chicago's school board recently unanimously voted to require its elementary schools to serve daily free breakfasts by the end of the 2010-2011 school year. This groundbreaking measure, better known as "Universal Breakfast," will provide a nutritious breakfast each school day to all 410,000 elementary school students enrolled in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) - regardless of financial need. The initiative expands the School Breakfast Program, a federally-funded program by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, to include an additional 299 elementary schools in the Chicago school district.

School Breakfast Program logo

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service encourages other school districts to follow Chicago's lead. Research shows that students who eat a nutritious breakfast perform better in school, have fewer behavioral problems, and are less likely to miss school due to illness. Additionally, Universal Breakfast decreases potential stigma associated with participation in a free or reduced school meal program; provides balanced nutrition to all students; and boosts struggling local economies by providing much needed federal reimbursement funds to school boards.

Nationally, elementary, middle, junior high, and high schools participating in the School Breakfast Program receive cash subsidies for every meal they serve meeting federal nutritional guidelines. The current reimbursement rate to schools for free breakfast is $1.48 per meal served. A variety of strategies to administer the School Breakfast Program exist, including Breakfast in the Classroom, Breakfast after First Period, Grab -N- Go, and Breakfast Carts. For more information, please visit the School Breakfast Program website or contact