The School Breakfast Program
The School Breakfast Program (SBP) allows all school children in Maryland the opportunity to eat a healthy breakfast every school day, which promotes learning readiness and healthy eating behaviors. The School Breakfast Program is a federally funded meal program that operates in public and private nonprofit schools and residential child care institutions.Like the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free meals to children. 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. All other children are offered a low-cost meal.
Studies show that eating breakfast at school results in fewer visits to the school nurse, improves children’s diets, reduces absenteeism, and helps build healthy eating habits. Additionally, children who start the day with a good breakfast are less likely to be obese.The benefits of breakfast are substantial, but too many children in Maryland miss out on a healthy start to their day. In 2015-16, only 47% of Free and Reduced eligible students in Maryland ate a school breakfast, with an average of 189,242 students eating breakfast at school per day. The school breakfast program is underutilized by kids who qualify to receive a free breakfast and lunch at school, due to many factors including convenience, stigma, and awareness. No Kid Hungry Maryland is aiming to better these numbers by immplementing alternate delivery models to overcome these barriers and make eating breakfast at school easier for all kids in Maryland Public Schools.
Alternative Delivery Models
Research has shown that offering alternative means for children to access school breakfast dramatically increases participation in the program, which in turn helps more children start their day with a healthy, nutritious breakfast. Along with the traditional model of cafeteria breakfast, the following models are available for breakfast delivery:
BREAKFAST IN THE CLASSROOM: Breakfast is delivered to the classroom and consumed in the classroom setting before school starts. This ensures that every child has the time and opportunity to eat breakfast before learning, and no child is singled out due to full class participation.
GRAB AND GO BREAKFAST: Breakfasts that include all components of the meal are packaged in bags and available at sites throughout the school for pick up, before school or during first period.
BREAKFAST AFTER 1ST PERIOD: Breakfast is served/consumed after the first period between classes (and finished during second period) or during their break. This again helps to reduce stigma by not singling out any individuals due to their need for a school breakfast.
Schools should evaluate their current delivery model and consider these opportunities to begin a program or increase participation. Many schools have been successful adopting one of these models, or even combining them to meet their own needs. Structuring breakfast as part of the school day, however, is the most effective way to increase participation. Whether breakfast is served in the classroom or the hallways, the flexibility to eat during the morning in school ensures optimal participation. Nationally, the school districts that make breakfast a part of the school day (such as serving breakfast in the classroom) are those that have the highest participation rates. The top performing districts in the country, serving more than 90 low-income students breakfast for every 100 that receive lunch, feature universal breakfast and alternative service models that make breakfast an essential part of the school day.