school breakfast on a desk

School Meals

Every day, kids across America come to school having not eaten a healthy meal - or having eaten nothing at all. The solution is breakfast served during the school day, preferably in the classroom before instruction begins. 

School meals are at the heart of No Kid Hungry's work to end child hunger.

Wes Parker is a second grade teacher in Arlington, Va. “I used to hear kids complaining about being hungry, and I never hear that now,” he said after his school began serving breakfast in the classroom. “It’s very hard to think about other things when your stomach is telling you that you need food, so it has made a huge difference.”

The No Kid Hungry campaign helps educators and lawmakers across the country with the guidance and funding they need to make school breakfast a regular part of the day for students. Some of the ways we help:

  • Funding for schools. Though the cost of free school meals is paid by the federal government, schools need help to operate successful meals programs, from the refrigerators in their kitchens to the cooler bags and carts needed to deliver meals to classrooms.

    Grants from No Kid Hungry help pay for these critical needs - last year alone we provided more than $25 million in grant funding, mostly to schools. You can see No Kid Hungry grants that went to schools in your community.
  • Advocating for kids. We advocate for stronger school meals programs in states across the country. Working with our local partners, we’ve helped make breakfast part of the school day in districts from California to New York.
  • Research and training. To help more communities feed kids, we created the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices - a team of analysts, researchers and program experts - who study what works best, then share those ideas far and wide so that everyone working to feed kids has the resources, support and know-how they need.

We saw years of incredible success helping schools across the country - before the pandemic, three million additional children were eating breakfast at school thanks to our efforts.

But COVID dealt a terrible blow to that progress. Every public school in the United States closed their doors during the pandemic and many schools are still facing problems, including staffing shortages and high rates of chronic absenteeism.

Today we’re focused on helping schools rebuild their breakfast programs - as well as expanding the number of children who qualify for free school meals.

"If I could use one word to describe school breakfast, it would be 'blessing'," said Oscar Troncoso, a school principal in El Paso, Texas. "It’s a blessing for our students. It’s a blessing for our community."

Learn more about the ways you can help hungry kids or make a donation today.