Participation in USDA’s School Breakfast Program doubled between 1999 and 2019
Between 1999 and 2019, participation in USDA’s School Breakfast Program roughly doubled, increasing from 7.4 million children on a typical school day in fiscal year (FY) 1999 to 14.7 million in FY 2019. The Federal program makes healthy breakfasts available to all students in participating schools, with children from low-income households receiving the meals for free or at a reduced price. Most of the growth in participation over the last 2 decades has been among students receiving free breakfasts. Free breakfast participation rose from 5.7 million children in FY 1999 to 11.7 million in FY 2019, an increase of 5 million children. In FY 2019, 80 percent of breakfasts served were free, 5 percent were provided at a reduced price, and 15 percent were full price. Federal spending for the program totaled $4.5 billion in FY 2019—3 percent more than in the previous year. These data were collected before the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore do not account for pandemic-related conditions, including school closures and economic conditions. FY 2020 data that would reflect those circumstances are expected to be released during summer 2021. The data for this chart are from the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Child Nutrition Programs topic page.
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