Policy Factsheet

School Breakfast Programs

Reasons for Policy

  • Early malnutrition and/or micronutrient deficiencies can adversely affect physical, mental and social aspects of child health and have been linked to poor cognitive functioning. 2
  • In the United States, over 13 million children experienced ‘food insecurity with hunger’ in the period between 2003 and 2005. 3

Community Groups

  • Local Government
  • Local School District

Policy Components

  • The school breakfast program provides meals to students at full price, reduced price, or for free according to uniform national eligibility criteria based on family income and size.
  • The program should be open to all children who are enrolled in public and private nonprofit schools and residential child care institutions.
  • Schools receive federal funds for each breakfast served, provided that the meal meets established nutrition standards.

Desired Outcomes

  • Improved attendance, academic achievement, cognitive functioning and other physical and psychosocial outcomes

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science. 1

The levels of effectiveness as noted are: 1 = meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design); 2 = consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only; 3 = insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 3: Insufficient Evidence Available.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

  • School breakfast programs may achieve small physical and psychosocial benefits for disadvantaged students. However, findings are limited by studies with poor scientific merit. More research is needed.4 5 6

References


  1. Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.  

  2. Scrimshaw, NS (1998). Malnutrition, brain development, learning, and behavior. Nutrition Research, 18(2), 351-379.  

  3. America’s Second Harvest: The Nation’s Food Bank Network. Child food insecurity in the United States: 2003-2005. Retrieved from http://www.hpfb.org/ChildhoodFoodInsecurity03-05.pdf .  

  4. Kristjansson, B, Robinson, V, Petticrew, M, et al (2006). School feeding for improving the physical and psychosocial health of disadvantaged students. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 2006 Issue 14. DOI: 10.4073/csr.2006.14.  

  5. Pollitt, E (1995). Does breakfast make a difference in school? Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 95, 1134-1139.
     

  6. Ells, LJ, Hillier, FC, & Summerbell, CD (2006). A systematic review of the effect of nutrition, diet and dietary change on learning, education and performance of children of relevance to UK schools. (FSA Project Code: N05070). University of Teside, 2006.