Growth in School Breakfast Program participation slowed from 2016-2018
On a typical school day in fiscal 2018, USDA’s School Breakfast Program (SBP) provided healthy breakfasts to 14.7 million students, slightly less than half of the 29.7 million who participated in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). SBP began as a grants program targeting especially needy schools. After being permanently authorized in 1975, more schools adopted the program. For example, the number of schools participating in SBP grew by nearly 9 percent annually between fiscal 1989 and 1995. By fiscal 2016, more than 9 out of 10 schools offering NSLP lunches also offered breakfast. In fiscal 2000, 7.6 million students participated in SBP daily; by fiscal 2016, participation had reached 14.6 million. Since then participation has increased each year by less than 1 percent. Most participants have high need; 80 percent of breakfasts in 2018 were free and another 5 percent were provided at a reduced price. Participating schools receive reimbursements from USDA for meals served; reimbursement rates are higher for free and reduced price meals. Schools with high shares of needy students receive a higher “severe need” reimbursement rate. Spending for the program totaled $4.4 billion in fiscal 2018. This chart appears in the Child Nutrition Programs: Charts topic page on the ERS website.
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