College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences
Food Science and Nutrition Department
BS in Nutrition
The primary goals of the school breakfast program are to reduce food-insecurity among low-income students and to decrease the growing habit of breakfast skipping. Consumption of school breakfast has been associated with improved health and academic performance. The purpose of this review was to investigate these alleged beneficial outcomes and to evaluate the program’s success in promoting accessibility and participation for all students. Results showed that children who ate a school breakfast were more likely to have a healthier BMI and a broader daily nutrient intake. Participation also helped students achieve higher math and reading grades. Their teachers reported improvements in behavior, mood, and cooperation. Other benefits included fewer truancies, tardiness, and visits to the nurse’s office. Research revealed that the program is underutilized when compared to participation of the national school lunch program. Eligible, food-insecure children are still not participating. In 2008, failure to reach national participation goals resulted in a loss of $561 million in federal child nutrition funding. Increasing participation can increase access to federal funding. Program modifications, such as providing a free breakfast in-class, are practical strategies to increase participation and extend the program benefits to all U.S. schoolchildren.