(WASHINGTON, D.C.) ― As schools around the county take part in School Breakfast Week celebrations this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commemorates the 50th anniversary of its School Breakfast Program by shining a light on the positive impacts of school breakfast. Over the course of this administration, participation in school breakfast programs has increased by almost 27 percent; over 14 million students are now eating school breakfast each day. To help support the ongoing success of the School Breakfast Program and other child nutrition programs, Agriculture Undersecretary Kevin Concannon announced today that USDA will award up to $6.8 million in competitive Team Nutrition Training Grants to help schools and child care sites sustain the successful implementation of the healthier meals made possible by the bipartisan Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010.
“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the School Breakfast Program, we reflect on the great strides the program has made in strengthening the health and nutrition of children in America. The School Breakfast Program allows millions of students to start their day with a well-balanced breakfast, which, in turn, is linked to better performance in the classroom, better attendance, and better health,” said Concannon.
Research using USDA data found that students with access to school breakfast tend to have a better overall diet and a lower body mass index (BMI) than did nonparticipants. Other research has shown that students who consume breakfast make greater strides on standardized tests, pay attention and behave better in class, and are less frequently tardy, absent or visiting the nurse’s office. School breakfast is especially important for teens, who are less likely to eat breakfast than other age groups, and lower income students who may be at risk of food insecurity.
USDA has been committed to ensuring that students around the country can enjoy the benefits of school breakfast by helping schools implement and enhance their school breakfast programs. USDA has also worked with schools to encourage the use of the Community Eligibility Provision, a cost-sharing agreement that allows high-poverty schools to serve both breakfast and lunch each school day at no cost to the student. Subsequently, the reach of the School Breakfast Program has rapidly increased over the past seven years. More than 14 million children participated in school breakfast during the last school year, an increase of nearly 3 million, since the beginning of the administration. In fact, last year over 2.3 billion breakfasts were served by more than 90,000 schools and child care sites.
School Breakfast Week is celebrated in the midst of National Nutrition Month, commemorated each March. Throughout the month, USDA is highlighting the results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation. For example, since the updated school nutrition standards were implemented in school year 2013-14, school breakfasts are healthier than ever before, including a serving of fruit, whole-grain-rich grains, and low fat or fat free milk.
The Team Nutrition grants announced today aim to continue the advancement of the child nutrition programs, including the School Breakfast Program. “The $6.8 million in grant funds USDA is offering to support school breakfast and other child nutrition programs demonstrates our commitment to providing schools and child care sites the resources and support they need to help kids start their day off right and continue strong all day long,” said Concannon.
USDA’s Team Nutrition initiative provides technical assistance, training, and nutrition education resources for schools and child care providers participating in USDA’s child nutrition programs. Grants through this program are intended to conduct and evaluate training, nutrition education, and technical assistance activities to support the implementation of USDA nutrition standards for snacks and meals, like school breakfast. For more information on the request for grant applications as well as summaries of activities conducted by previous grantees, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/team-nutrition-training-grants.
The School Breakfast Program is one of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s 15 nutrition assistance programs, which also include the National School Lunch Program, Summer Food Service Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Together, these programs comprise America’s nutrition safety net.