Frequently Asked Questions
What You Need to Know
What You Need to Know
The School Breakfast Program is a federally-funded meal program operating in public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions.
Schools that choose to participate must serve breakfast meals meeting Federal nutrition requirements and offer free or reduced price breakfast to all eligible children. In exchange, schools will receive cash subsidies from the USDA for each reimbursable meal served. For more information, please download this fact sheet from the Food and Nutrition Service.
School breakfasts must meet the applicable recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Each meal should include fruits (or vegetables), whole grain-rich foods and/or meats/meat alternatives and milk. Breakfasts are also limited in sodium, calories, saturated fats and trans fats. However, decisions about specific foods to serve and how the foods are prepared are made by local school food authorities. For more detail, please visit USDA’s website on Nutrition Standards for School Meals.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reimburses participating schools for each breakfast served. The current (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021) federal per meal reimbursement rates in non-severe need schools are:
Free breakfasts – $1.98
Reduced-price breakfasts – $1.59
Paid breakfasts – $0.32
Schools that qualify as severe need (at least 40% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches) receive an even higher per meal reimbursement. The reimbursement rates per meal served in severe need schools are: $2.26, $1.96, and $0.32, respectively.
Any student in a household with income at or below 130% of federal poverty level are eligible for free school meals. Those students in households with incomes between 130%-185% of federal poverty level are eligible are eligible for reduced-price meals.
In addition, students participating in other federal assistant programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations as well as foster youth, migrant, homeless or runaway youth and Head Start participants are “categorically eligible” for free school meals.
If you are a school official at a participating school, try some of the fun suggestions below provided by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) to increase breakfast participation.