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School Breakfast Program


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The School Breakfast Program is a federally funded program that assists schools and other agencies in providing nutritious breakfasts to children at reasonable prices. The United States Department of Agriculture is responsible for overseeing the program nationally. In Iowa, the program is administered by the Iowa Department of Education, Bureau of Food and Nutrition.

School Breakfast Signage

Iowa Team Nutrition has developed school breakfast reimbursable meal identification signage to assist students in selecting their meal choices and to reduce unintentional purchase of food items not included in the reimbursable meal. The kit was designed to support schools in meeting the "Identification of Reimbursable Meals" regulation that is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. 

The signage can be posted or placed in a letter sized clear acrylic sign holder.

Sample Sign

Editable Menu Template

Colored Components

Why should we participate in the School Breakfast Program?

There are numerous reasons to have breakfast at school. Many children do not have the opportunity to eat breakfast on a regular basis. These children are hungry when they reach school or by mid morning. The link between nutrition and its affect on children's ability to learn has moved beyond just anecdotal evidence. Research has proven these facts.

Studies have shown that children whose nutritional needs are met have:

  • Better school attendance.
  • Fewer discipline problems.
  • Improved attention span.
  • Increased memory later in the morning.
  • Improved performance on tasks requiring the retention of new information. *

*In neighboring Minnesota, studies have shown that integrating breakfast into the educational schedule of all students generally leads to increased learning and achievement, improved attention and behavior, as well as better math and reading scores, and reduced nurse visits.

What is involved in operating a School Breakfast Program?

There are many similarities between the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program. Both programs must be open to all enrolled children. If a child already qualifies for free or reduced price lunches, then the child would also qualify for free or reduced price breakfasts in the school district where they are enrolled. Also, records must be kept to document that the breakfast program follows all federal and state rules and regulations. Such records include:

  • Meal production records and menus that document the amounts and types of food used.
  • The number of breakfasts served each day, by site and by category (free, reduced price, and full price).

The Iowa Department of Education's review of each agency's breakfast program is generally done in conjunction with the review of the agency's National School Lunch Program. Those agencies that annually receive $300,000 or more in federal funds (from all sources) must also be audited each year.

What are the differences between the School Breakfast Program and the Severe Need Breakfast Program?

The primary difference between the two programs is that the Severe Need Breakfast Program offers higher rates of reimbursement for sites determined to be in severe need. To be eligible, two years prior, 40 percent or more of the lunches served at the site were served free or at a reduced price and the reimbursement rate per meal is insufficient to cover the costs of the school's breakfast program. Sites must annually re-establish their eligibility for the Severe Need Breakfast Program.



How do we get reimbursed?

The School Breakfast Program is operated on a reimbursement basis. The United States Department of Agriculture and the State of Iowa provide funding. Agencies submit a monthly reimbursement claim form to the Iowa Department of Education that covers all school nutrition programs, including the School Breakfast Program.

Under the Breakfast Program, reimbursement is based on the number of breakfasts served by eligibility type multiplied by the appropriate reimbursement rate. State reimbursement is paid for all free and reduced price meals. Refer to the most recent copy of the "School Nutrition Programs


Resources for Administrators


Edit Sheet

FY14 School Meal Programs Documents
The following documents are for use after July 1, 2013 for the  2013 - 2014 school year.  Applications materials are to be distributed at or near the beginning of the school year.
FY14 Iowa Eligibility Application Instructions
FY14 Iowa Eligibility Application
FY14 Parent Letter

Resources for Food Service Staff


Power Break Brochure for Schools
Power Break Brochure for Parents

Eligibility Requirements

What types of agencies may participate?

Iowa agencies that are eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program may also participate in the School Breakfast Program. Such agencies include public and private nonprofit schools and public and private nonprofit licensed residential childcare institutions.

School Breakfast Program Free and Reduced-Priced Meal Eligibility/Verification FAQs

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on July 11, 2014 at 1:48pm.