In the United States, only half the students who eat school lunch also start their day with a healthy school breakfast. This “school breakfast gap” is a missed opportunity for low-income school students to start their day with a healthy meal, which is proven to improve academic success and health outcomes. One in five American children struggle with hunger and three of four teachers say they teach kids who regularly come to school hungry. The fact that low-income students are not eating breakfast worsens food insecurity, which has been shown to impair the mental and emotional development of children, make it harder for children to learn, and lead to a host of chronic health conditions.
This issue brief examines the framework of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, the school breakfast gap and its subsequent public health impacts, and the most prevalent state interventions to bridge the breakfast gap.