National School Breakfast Program Department of Agriculture

The School Breakfast Program, like the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), is a federally assisted meal program. It operates in 91,000 of the 99,000 public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions in which NSLP also functions. It provided nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free breakfasts to 14.6 million children each school day in 2016. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service administers the program at the federal level. At the state level, the School Breakfast Program is usually administered by state education agencies, which operate the program through agreements with school food authorities. The School Breakfast Program provides federal cash support for each meal that meets nutrition standards served to students. For school year 2017-2018, schools received a subsidy of $1.75 for each breakfast served to students eligible for a free breakfast, $1.45 for each eligible reduced-price breakfast, and $0.30 for each breakfast served in the paid category. Students qualify for free meals based on the household income if it falls at or below 130% of poverty or through their participation in programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that qualifies students as categorically eligible for free meals. Students can qualify for reduced-price meals if the household income falls at or below 185% of poverty. All other students are placed in the paid meals category. Schools that served 40% or more of their students free or reduced-price lunches in the preceding school year qualify for severe need reimbursements and receive a subsidy of $2.09 for each breakfast served to students eligible for a free breakfast, $1.79 for each eligible reduced-price breakfast, and $0.30 for each breakfast served in a paid category. In 2016, USDA spent $4.2 billion to operate the Program.

Agency Accountable Official: Brandon Lipps, Food and Nutrition Services, Administrator

Total Payments
$4.2B
Improper Payments
$1B
Improper Payment Rate
22.75%

Supplemental Measures

Current Measure: 91%

Target: No target established

Description: This figure summarizes State and school district success in transitioning from traditional applications that exhibit relatively high error rates, to direct certification, with much lower error rates.

Update Frequency: Annually

Data Current as of: June 30, 2017

Current Measure: 34%

Target: No target established

Description: This figure is an indirect measure of State agency investments in technology improvements and automation that reduces the risk of human error, particularly in recordkeeping and counting and claiming meals for Federal reimbursement. This figure is also reported on an annual cycle that coincides with the award of State agency grants by USDA.

Update Frequency: Annually

Data Current as of: August 30, 2017


Program Comments

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) relies on periodic nationally-representative studies to produce estimates of improper payments in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. The Access, Participation, Eligibility, and Certification (APEC) Study created the first-ever nationally-representative estimate of payment errors in the school meal programs, for school year 2005-2006. FNS conducted the second APEC study in school year 2012-2013. The third study in the APEC series is collecting data in school year 2017-2018. In order to measure improper payments in periods between major data collections, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) developed a methodology that uses data available from other sources to estimate improper payments on an annual basis.

Additional information on the program is also provided annually in the USDA Agency Financial Report located at https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/usda-fy17-agency-financial-report.pdf