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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 Program - Fast Facts

Program Information

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.

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.

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.

FY17 School Meal Programs Eligibility documents are for use after July 1, 2016 for the 2016-2017 school year. Application materials are to be distributed at or near the beginning of the school year. The documents can be accessed and downloaded from IowaCNP under Download Forms.


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
Editable Menu Template with Colored Components
Colored Components
School Breakfast Sign in PPT for Electronic Cafeteria Monitors
We Also Serve Breakfast - Cinnamon Roll and Banana Sign
Did You Know We Serve School Breakfast Too? - Sun Sign
Breakfast Inspiration Poster Developed by Muscatine East Campus

Resources for High Schools
The Iowa Team Nutrition Program, along with the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, worked on a project to address school breakfast participation among Iowa teens. To figure out the best way to address this issue, students from Waukee High School in Waukee, Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids, and Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf were included in the project. These students identified barriers, motivators, and benefits to eating school breakfast.

  • Twitter Toolkit - provide food service directors, cafeteria workers, and school administrators with information and resources to develop and manage their own Twitter account, including how to set up an account, how to develop messages, what to tweet about, and how to increase your followers.
  • Best Practices Guide - represents the student perspective on practices related to school breakfast and provides solutions to common school breakfast challenges including: awareness, competing priorities, timing, location, food preferences, and misconceptions.
  • School Breakfast Student Survey

Meal Pattern Requirements and Resources

Chart of Meal Pattern Requirements and Specifications
Presentation Slides of the School Breakfast Meal Pattern Requirements
School Breakfast Meal Pattern Requirement Webinar Recording
Breakfast Menu Planning Template
Iowa Gold Star Cycle Breakfast Menus
Edit Sheet
Iowa Breakfast Checklist

School Breakfast Surveys

Parent school breakfast survey: Report of findings - (Spring 2015) The University of Iowa conducted a survey of Iowa parents (n=8,982). The purpose of the survey was to 1) evaluate parents' knowledge of the school breakfast program at their child's school, 2) determine parent perceptions of the school breakfast program, and 3) identify general breakfast consumption behaviors of school-aged children.

Administrator school breakfast survey: Report of findings - (Summer 2015) The University of Iowa conducted an online survey of K-12 school administrators in the state of Iowa (n=152). The purpose of the survey was to better understand administrator perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs around the school breakfast program and determine barriers and facilitators to improving school breakfast program participation in Iowa schools.

Stakeholder Surveys (USDA) - Sample surveys to send to parents, teachers, etc. to assess their interest and concerns with starting or expanding the breakfast program


The following resources can help increase participation:

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on March 23, 2018 at 10:25pm.