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Child Nutrition > Programs > National School Breakfast Program

National School Breakfast Program

The new School Breakfast resource is available! The redesigned the School Breakfast Toolkit as an on-line resource to help school districts serve more students in School Breakfast programs.


Research has shown that starting the day with a nutritious breakfast helps students stay alert and perform better in school.

The resource includes downloadable letters to principals, teachers, and parents, a PowerPoint presentation, and other materials to build community support and encourage more students to eat School Breakfast.

Visit the new resource at the CND website:


No Charge for Breakfast for Reduced students.

Private schools can not charge more than $.30 for Reduced Price School Breakfast.


National School Breakfast Week


Information from SNA!





How many kids eat breakfast at school?

About 34,000 children each day ate school breakfast school year 2007.   (About 110,000 children ate school lunch daily school year 07).

How large is the School Breakfast Program?

About 569 schools in Maine offer breakfast.   (About 639 schools offer school lunch).

Compared to school lunch, how many children eat school breakfast?

Compared to eating school lunch every day, only about 31%children eat school breakfast daily.

Not every child who eats lunch has an opportunity to eat breakfast at school.

Breakfast is available in fewer schools than is lunch.  

The great majority of children who currently participate in the breakfast program (71 percent, as opposed to 49 percent in the lunch program school year 07) receive their meals free or at a reduced price.   As a result, school breakfast has come to be thought of in many places as a program for low-income children.

The School Breakfast Program started out as a two-year pilot program under the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and was made permanent in October 1975.

The School Breakfast Program is available to the same schools and institutions as the National School Lunch Program.

Over the last 10 years the School Breakfast Program has nearly doubled in participation.


Why Have Breakfast?

Meet daily nutritional needs

Consume less fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories when cereal is eaten


Have lower blood cholesterol levels

Thinner and keep weight under control

Improves memory, concentration, energy, endurance and mood

Attend school more often

Less discipline problems

Earn higher grades

spend less time in principal's or nurse's office


Required Minimum Serving Sizes



Food Components/Items


Ages 1 and 2


Ages 3, 4, and 5


Grades K-12


MILK (Fluid)

(As a beverage, on cereal, or both)

½ cup

¾ cup

½ pint


Fruit and/or vegetable;



Fruit Juice or Vegetable Juice

¼ cup

½ cup

½ cup

Select one serving from each of the following components/items or two servings from one component/item


One of the following or an equivalent combination:

-Bread (whole-grain or enriched)

-Biscuit, roll, muffin or equal serving of cornbread, etc. (whole-grain or enriched meal or flour)

-Cereal (whole-grain or enriched or fortified)

½ slice

½ serving

¼ cup or 1/3 ounce

½ slice

½ serving

1/3 cup or ½ ounce

1 slice

1 serving

¾ cup or 1 ounce


One of the following or an equivalent combination:

-Lean meat, poultry, or fish


-Large Egg

-Peanut Butter or other nut or seed butters

-Cooked dry beans and peas

-Nuts and/or Seeds (as listed in program guidance)***

½ ounce

½ ounce


1 Tbsp.

2 Tbsp.

½ ounce

½ ounce

½ ounce


1 Tbsp.

2 Tbsp.

½ ounce

1 ounce

1 ounce


2 Tbsp.

4 Tb sp.

1 ounce

*Recommended daily: A citrus juice or fruit or a fruit or vegetable that is a good source of vitamin C (See Menu Planning Guide for School Food Service, PA-1260).

**For serving sizes of breads and bread alternates, see Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Program, PA-1331 (1984)

***No more than one ounce of nuts and/or seeds may be served in any one meal.

The Nutrient Standard Menu Planning Approach

Nutrient Standard Menu Planning (sometimes called “NuMenus”) is a computer based menu planning system that uses approved computer software to analyze the specific nutrient content of menu items automatically while menus are being planned. It is designed to assist menu planners in choosing food items that create nutritious meals and meet the nutrient standards.

Breakfast Min reguirements

2 Other menu item(s) (side dishes)
Fluid milk




Questions and Answers


Q. What are some good sources of vitamin C that I can include when planning breakfast?

A. The following are some examples of sources of vitamin C:
Citrus Fruits, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and any combination of their juices, Other Fruits and Vegetables, cantaloupe – honeydew, kiwifruit, mangoes, papayas, pineapple juice, strawberries, tomato juice, vegetable juice.

Q. What are some good sources of iron that I can include when planning breakfast?

A. The following are some sources of iron:
Bread and Bread Alternate, all enriched or whole-grain bread and bread alternates and whole-grain, enriched or fortified cereals, Meat and Meat Alternates, dried beans and peas, eggs/cheese, meats (in general), peanuts and other nuts and seeds and their butters, Fruits and Vegetables, cherries – canned, dried fruits – apples, apricots, dates, figs, peaches, prunes, and raisins, tomato juice, vegetable juice.

Q. The national evaluations concluded that the school breakfast provides significantly less vitamin A than home breakfasts. What are some good breakfast sources of vitamin A?

A. The following foods are good sources of vitamin A:
apricots, cantaloupe, cherries (red sour), mangoes, papayas, peaches (except canned), purple plums, tomato juice.

Q. Can nuts and seeds fulfill the meat/meat alternate requirement?

A. Nuts and seeds can be credited for one serving of the meat/meat alternate for the School Breakfast Program. No more than one ounce of nuts and/or seeds may be served in any one meal. Caution: Children under 5 are at the highest risk of choking. It is recommended that nuts and/or seeds be served ground or finely chopped in a prepared food.

Q. How often should I include a meat/meat alternate when planning breakfast?

A. Offering meat/meat alternates as part of the breakfast menu is optional. Consider student preferences, variety, and cost when deciding how often to include meat/meat alternates. Because meat/meat alternates are relatively high in fat and/or salt, it is recommended that you consider the frequency with which you serve these foods.

Q. How do I determine the serving sizes of bread/bread alternates?

A. Refer to the Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs , Bread and Bread Alternates Section, for weights of servings and a detailed list of breads and bread alternates.

Q. Will the FNS approved formulated grain-fruit products still meet the bread/bread alternate and fruit or juice requirements for the new breakfast meal requirements?

A. The formulated grain-fruit products meet the fruit or juice requirement and only one of the bread/bread alternate requirements. A second serving of bread/bread alternate or a serving of meat/meat alternate and fluid milk is also required to be offered for a complete breakfast. Manufacturers are required to update their labels to reflect this contribution no later than March 30, 1990. Revised product labels will state, “This product conforms to USDA Child Nutrition Program specifications. For breakfast, it meets the requirements for fruit/vegetable/juice and one bread/bread alternate.”


I eat breakfast because…

“I'm hungry!”

“I need some energy”

“I need to feed my brain”

“I didn't have time to eat at home”

“I like to visit with friends before school”         

Breakfast helps me learn because…

It gives me energy to ‘listen up' in class”

“It helps me do better on tests”

“It makes my brain ready to work”

“It gives me a better attitude towards school”


What do parents say about School Breakfast?


“…gives my kids a chance for a nutritious breakfast”

“…sometimes there is just no time to fix breakfast at home”

“…I feel less guilty if rushed; I know my kids will get breakfast at school”

“…provides my kids a place to go before school starts; I go to work early”


What does the community say about School Breakfast?

“…helps children do better in school, often keeping them in school”

“…gives free and reduced price breakfasts for eligible children”

“…develops children into productive members of society”


More Resources


School Nutrition Assoc.

5 A-Day

National Dairy Council

Action for Healthy Kids