One in five children in America struggle with hunger. This food insecurity has devastating consequences for the health of these children including a greater risk for obesity, diabetes, impaired cognitive development, and mental health issues. In addition, hungry children struggle to perform academically. The National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program are federally assisted meal programs that help schools provide healthy meals to children across the country. However, despite these efforts, there is a “breakfast gap.”
There are millions of children who need a healthy breakfast but aren’t getting one. Data shows that approximately half as many low-income children participate in the National School Breakfast Program (12 million) as participate in the National School Lunch Program (22 Million). States have recognized this challenge and are developing policies to address the logistical, social, and economic barriers to student participation in the National School Breakfast Program. This resource surveys state policies in regard to six critical interventions aimed at increasing the number of children receiving a healthy school breakfast. This legal survey is meant to be used with its companion issue brief which addresses the public health implications of this challenge and provides a detailed discussion of each of the highlighted interventions.