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 90,000 of the over 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 million children each school day in 2015. 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 2016-2017, schools received a subsidy of $1.71 for each breakfast served to students eligible for a free breakfast, $1.41 for each eligible reduced-price breakfast, and $0.29 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 $2.04 for each breakfast served to students eligible for a free breakfast, $1.74 for each eligible reduced-price breakfast, and $0.29 for each breakfast served in a paid category. In 2015, USDA spent $3.9 billion to operate the Program.

Agency Accountable Official: Yvette Jackson, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services

Total Payments
$4B
Improper Payments
$0.9B
Improper Payment Rate
22.48%

Supplemental Measures

Current Measure: 91%

Target: No target established

Description: This measure is the estimated percent of school age children in households that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program who are directly certified for free school meals without an application.

Update Frequency: Annually

Data Current as of: December 14, 2016

Current Measure: 25

Target: No target established

Description: The number of states receiving grants for school meals oversight systems. The purpose of these grants is to assist schools in reducing errors relating to record keeping and meal claiming. Increasing state grants will reduce related errors.

Update Frequency: Annually

Data Current as of: December 14, 2016


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. USDA published the second Access, Participation, Eligibility, and Certification (APEC-II) study in May 2015 that sampled data from school year 2012-2013. FNS is working on a methodology to project error for years after school year 2012-2013. Until that model is final, FNS’s projections use the same error rate from APEC-II adjusted for changes in program rules, in particular the nationwide implementation of the Community Eligibility Provision.

Additional information on the program is also provided annually in the USDA Agency Financial Report.