Strategies that work! Research shows that students who eat breakfast at school have
increased standardized achievement test scores, improved
attendance and reduced tardiness. Yet, only about half of students
who eat a free or reduced price school lunch also take advantage
of school breakfast.
Across the country, schools are coming up with innovative ways to
overcome the barriers and ensure that children in need have a
healthy start to their school day. Here are a few of the most
effective solutions - Please share this list of ideas with your school
and see what a difference breakfast can make for children.
Get creative – serve breakfast at a time and place where
kids are most likely to participate
Breakfast in the Classroom
Just as the name implies, students eat breakfast in the
classroom at the beginning of the day or during morning
break time. Breakfasts can be either hot or cold, depending
on a school's facilities. Breakfast in the classroom can be
offered in several ways:
• Students can stop by the cafeteria and pick up their
breakfast in grab 'n' go bags, along with milk and then
go to class.
• Breakfast can be delivered to the classroom on carts.
• A student representative can go to the cafeteria, pick up
the breakfasts for those students eating breakfast, and
take it back to the class in a cart or wagon.
Little teaching time is lost, as breakfast only takes 10 to 15 minutes
for the student to eat. Many teachers use this time to take
attendance, collect homework, deliver announcements or read to
the class.
Grab 'N' Go Breakfast
Grab 'N' Go breakfasts are packaged in paper bags, boxes or
trays. Students pick up their breakfast and eat it when and
where they want, within school guidelines. Food service staff
pack reimbursable breakfasts into individual paper bags,
usually the day before, or purchase prepackaged reimbursable
breakfasts in boxes. Grab 'N' Go breakfasts can be served first
thing in the morning, between classes, or at a mid-morning
break. Bags can be served from mobile service carts located in
high traffic areas such as the school entrance, cafeteria,
hallways, or near the gym. Students can take the breakfast
and eat it outside, in the hall, in class, or in the cafeteria,
depending on what the school decides is appropriate. There is
a lot of flexibility with this method of serving breakfast,
depending on the school's needs.
2. Make sure parents know and that they complete the
applications – marketing can make a HUGE difference.
Help families complete school meal applications using some o
ideas and resources provided by the USDA:
Send a letter or flyer explaining why parents should
complete the application. There are two sample letters to
parents below. The first encourages parents to turn in their
free and reduced price applications, and the second
encourages participation in the School Breakfast Program.
School meal applications can be turned in at any point
during the school year, so applications and reminders can
be sent home more than once.
Make sure applications are available in most languages
spoken in your community. School Meal Applications,
instructions and letters in 19 languages are available on the
USDA Food and Nutrition Service School Meals website.
Send applications and meal pricing policies to families
along with other forms and notices they need to return.
Remind parents that students who qualify for free or
reduced priced lunch also qualify for free or reduced
priced breakfast.
Include an envelope marked “Confidential” for application
Follow up on students who received free or reduced price
meals the prior year and have not submitted an application
for the current year.
Sample A: letters to parents
Dear Parent,
I’m writing to let you know how important it is to fill out the
attached school meal application form.
Some parents are concerned about listing income amounts and
social security numbers on the application. Any personal
information you provide will not be shared:
Free and reduced price meal applications are confidential.
Your information will only be used to determine your
child’s eligibility for the school meal programs. We cannot
share your information without your written permission.
Students who receive free and reduced price meals are not
identified. No other students, staff, or teachers need to
know who is receiving free or reduced meals and who has
There are two important reasons to fill out this form:
If your child qualifies for free or reduced price lunches, he
or she qualifies for free or reduced price breakfasts at
school as well. We want to help your child eat healthy
meals at school.
Your child may receive other school benefits. The number
of applications that are returned and approved can affect
how much funding our school gets to help students meet
academic benchmarks, including materials like books and
Please take a few minutes to fill out this form so that your child
may qualify for these important benefits.
SAMPLE B: Letter to Parents
Dear Parent,
This year, we need your help to make sure all of our students are
fully prepared for academic success. We all know that hungry
children have a more difficult time doing their best work. That’s
why we encourage all students to begin the school day with a
nutritious breakfast.
The School Breakfast Program is available to all students every
weekday morning. You do not have to register your child in
advance. Your child can eat breakfast at school every day or only
occasionally. School breakfast makes good sense – it provides ¼ of
your child’s nutritional needs, meets Dietary Guidelines
recommendations, and offers children a chance to eat breakfast
with their friends
School Breakfast is an ideal solution on busy mornings when kids
are running late or parents have to be at work early. Whatever the
reason, if breakfast at home is not convenient, please have your
child take advantage of breakfast here at school.
Thank you for helping us to make sure that all of our students start
the school day alert, well fed and ready to learn.
Break down the stigma: Make breakfast participation
about a great way to start the day – not a program for
low-income students. Following is a sample article for
the school newsletter or newspaper courtesy of USDA.
Sample Article for School Newsletter or newspaper
Mornings can be really crazy…the alarm doesn’t go off…the
kids don’t want to get up…there’s no time to eat breakfast
before the bus comes…or they’re just not ready to eat. Or
maybe your teenager grabs a can of soda and a candy bar
on the way to school. If this sounds like your house, we
have good news for you.
Breakfast is served at school! School breakfast will give
your child a healthy start to the day. A nutritious breakfast
helps students be more alert so they can learn more in
class. Breakfast has vitamins and nutrients for a strong and
healthy body.
Breakfast at school is affordable, too. If you qualify for free
and reduced price meals, you also qualify for the breakfast
program, with no additional paperwork. You can’t find a
healthy breakfast at such a low cost anywhere else.
Help your child start the day right with school breakfast!
Desayuno en la Escuela
Las mañanas pueden ser algo difíciles…la alarma no
suena…los niños no se quieren levantar…no hay tiempo
para desayunar, el bus ya va llegando…o quizás los niños
no tienen hambre. O tal vez el joven se lleva un chocolate y
una soda para comer en camino a la escuela. Si esto pasa
en tu casa, ¡tenemos buenas noticias!
¡Los niños pueden desayunar en la escuela! Sus niños
pueden comenzar el día saludablemente al comer el
desayuno en la escuela. Un desayuno saludable ayuda a los
estudiantes estar más alertos, y así aprender más. El
desayuno tiene vitaminas y nutrientes para un cuerpo
Y el desayuno en las escuelas no cuesta mucho. Si ya
calificas para comidas gratis o comidas a precio reducido,
también calificas para el Programa de Desayunos
Escolares y no tienes que llenar más formularios
2. Make breakfast a priority for your school –Create a
breakfast task force or committee with the goal of
learning and implementing best practices to increase
Find more great marketing resources from Share Our Strength at
And for additional resources, visit USDA School Breakfast
Program website at