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Food and Nutrition Programs

School Breakfast Programs

What Is the School Breakfast Program?

The School Breakfast Program (SBP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions. Participating schools provide meals that meet Federal nutrition standards and provide free and reduced-price breakfasts to eligible children.

What Schools and Institutions Can Participate?

Public schools or non-profit private schools of high school grade or under and residential child care institutions that are a National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Sponsor in good standing are eligible to participate in the SBP. If you currently participate in NSLP and would like to offer SBP contact you're a member of the School Nutrition Programs team. If you don't current provide meals through NLSP you can learn more about how to apply to serve meals in NLSP and SBP.

Are Schools Required to Provide Breakfast During the School Day?

In August of 2020, An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell was signed into law for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (C. 133 of the Acts of 2020). The bill contains language directing high-need public schools to offer school breakfast after the instructional day has begun. Office for Food and Nutrition Programs (FNP) issues a list annually of schools that meet this requirement.

In October of 2021, An Act Promoting Student Nutrition, Chapter 62 of the Acts of 2021, was enacted to increase access to universal free school meals. This act states that individual schools with an Identified Student Percentage of 50% or higher are required to elect and implement CEP or Provision 2 to provide universal free school breakfast and lunch to all students.

FNP has partnered with the Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP) at Project Bread to develop the After the Bell Toolkit Series. These resources are here to help you decide which type of alternative breakfast model best suits your school(s).

Who May Buy a Meal? Who Gets Free or Reduced-price Breakfasts?

Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal through the SBP. 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.

Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level 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.

How Do Schools Get Reimbursed for Meals?

Schools submit a claim to their state agency for meals served. USDA reimburses the State, which in turn reimburses the local school food authority. Federal government reimburses schools at the following rates can be found on our financial management page.

Schools may qualify for higher "severe-need" reimbursements if a specified percentage of their meals are served free or at a reduced price. Severe-need payments are higher than the normal reimbursements for free and reduced-price breakfasts.

Schools may charge no more than 30 cents for a reduced-price breakfast. Schools set their own prices for breakfasts served to students who pay the full meal price.

Last Updated: June 30, 2022

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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