School Breakfast Program

What is the School Breakfast Program?

In the United States, some 7.5 million children in more than 89,000 schools start their day with the School Breakfast Program, a Federal program that provides States with cash assistance for non-profit breakfast programs in schools and residential child care institutions.

What schools and institutions can participate?

Public schools or non-profit private schools of high school grade or under and residential child care institutions are eligible to participate in the School Breakfast Program. Participating schools and institutions must serve breakfasts that meet Federal nutrition standards and must provide free and reduced-price breakfasts to eligible children.

Who may buy a meal? Who gets free or reduced-price breakfasts?

Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal through the School Breakfast Program. A child whose family meets income criteria may receive a free or reduced-price breakfast. The Federal government then reimburses the schools for each meal served that meets program nutritional requirements.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level (currently $30,615 for a family of four) are eligible for free meals.
  • Those between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level (currently $43,568 for a family of four) are eligible for reduced-price meals.
  • Children from families over 185 percent of poverty pay a full price, though their meals are still subsidized to some extent.

There are approximately 846 schools in 162 districts that are mandated to serve breakfast in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.