School Breakfast


Drawn from our school breakfast challenge pilots, listen to principals and other school leaders and staff talk about what breakfast means to their students.

Click here to watch another video about why Breakfast in the Classroom is beneficial for Minneapolis Public Schools.

school breakfast

The School Breakfast Program, funded by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), is a great way to nourish kids before they start their first class of the day. But more than half of the kids eligible for the free and reduced price meals are going without.

In Minnesota, the program’s low use remains a challenge across school districts. While the number of eligible children has grown by seven percent since 2010, only 42 percent of breakfasts available to kids were served in 2015. As of the 2014-2015 school year, 330,876 Minnesota children were eligible to receive free or reduced price meals.

In addition to children going hungry, Minnesota is losing more than $44 million in federal revenue reimbursements.

Innovative breakfast meal service models, such as Breakfast in the Classroom and Grab ‘n’ Go, make it easier for students to eat a school breakfast each morning. Initiatives such as the Hunger-Free Minnesota campaign’s School Breakfast Challenge have demonstrated that these best practices can increase School Breakfast Program participation and jumpstart the kids’ school day.


Hunger Impact Partners will continue to increase enrollment and utilization of the federal School Breakfast Program in schools with high-need students. 


  • Leverage the momentum created by the Hunger-Free Minnesota campaign’s School Breakfast Challenge by expanding to 200 additional sites. Per-meal cash incentives encourage schools to adopt changes in their service models. Apply for our School Breakfast Challenge grant now
  • Provide ongoing funding for infrastructure grants and testing of new school breakfast models
  • Reach out to current and new stakeholders — such as school administrators, principals and school nutrition directors — to facilitate testing of new models and promotions to students
  • Scale and replicate successful tactics


Research by the University of Minnesota shows that when children routinely eat breakfast at school, they:

  • Perform better academically
  • Have better attendance records and fewer behavioral problems
  • Face lower risk for being overweight or obese

A study by Deloitte and Share Our Strength also demonstrates the difference school breakfast makes in Minnesota. In 2014-2015, an estimated 47 percent of low-income middle and elementary school children who were eating school lunch were also eating school breakfast in Minnesota. If 70% of those eligible students who were eating school lunch also ate school breakfast, 127,730 kids in need would have received school breakfast. That could mean:

  • 62,508 additional days attended per year
  • 41,672 improved math scores per year
  • 10,418 additional graduates


Traditional “School Breakfast” or “Breakfast in the Cafeteria” denotes a morning meal served in the cafeteria before the start of the school day. The benefits of this model are that hot food can be served easily and food requires no special transportation or packaging. Schools can also make use of existing space that is already set up to accommodate a large number of students in one central location. This is especially relevant in schools where the cafeteria and gymnasium are shared spaces.

However, in many instances, this traditional model can inhibit participation in the School Breakfast Program. There are many students who need breakfast but do not arrive at school early enough to eat it. Also, many students want to avoid the stigma of being labeled as “poor” that is often associated with eating breakfast in school.

New breakfast meal service models have been created in the last few years that make it easier for children to receive school breakfast each morning. Such models have worked successfully in hundreds of Minnesota schools.

Breakfast In The Classroom

In this model, breakfast is brought to classrooms after school starts – by the students themselves with insulated bags from the cafeteria, or by nutrition staff with service carts in the hallways. Breakfast is easy-to-eat and easy-to-clean items, such as breakfast sandwiches or burritos, low-fat muffins or cereals, plus milk and fruit or juice.

Breakfast in the Classroom typically takes 10–15 minutes to prepare, eat, and clean up. It can happen simultaneously with morning tasks, such as attendance and morning work, or it can easily become part of other instructional activities.

This method is also popular because it makes great use of space. In elementary schools in particular, the multi-purpose room (where meals are commonly served) is often used first in the morning for physical education classes or other purposes. This can make serving school breakfast in the multi-purpose room a challenge for custodial and food service staff when it comes to having the room back in order and ready to go. When breakfast delivery takes place in the hallway or classroom, this problem is mitigated.

Grab n’ Go

In this model, students pick up conveniently packaged breakfasts from mobile service carts in hallways and/or entryways or in the cafeteria when they arrive at school. Students can eat in the cafeteria, the classroom or elsewhere on school grounds.

2nd Chance Breakfast/Brunch

In this model, students eat breakfast during a morning break, usually after first period for secondary students or midway between breakfast and lunch for elementary students. Meals can be individually packaged and served in the same way as they are with Grab n’ Go breakfast. 2nd Chance Breakfast is also called Breakfast After First Period, 2nd Chance Brunch or Mid-Morning Nutrition Break.

By serving a reimbursable meal during a morning break, students who were not hungry in the early morning, or those who ate breakfast very early, now have a second chance to eat a healthy meal. With 2nd Chance Breakfast, more students eat breakfast at school.