USDA Issues Analysis of School Breakfast Program

A new analysis from USDA’s Economic Research Service shows the USDA School Breakfast Program has served about 63 billion meals since it was established in 1975.

Any student in a participating school can get free or reduced-price breakfast through the program, depending on their family income as it relates to the Federal Poverty line. The number of breakfasts served increased each year from 1982 through fiscal year 2016, before plateauing at about 2.4 billion meals from 2017 through 2019. On average, 85 percent of breakfasts were served for free or at a reduced price each year during this period. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 interrupted school operations, including the provision of meals, and the number of breakfasts served through the program dropped to about 1.8 billion breakfasts in 2020.

The decrease reflected the use of USDA pandemic waivers, which allowed schools to serve meals through the Summer Food Service Program.

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