"We already know that serving breakfast as a seamless part of the school day helps ensure all children get the morning nutrition they need," says Karen Wong. "But this study also reinforces that it is intertwined with student success."
Washington, D.C. – Offering breakfast as part of the school day can significantly reduce chronic absenteeism according to a new report conducted by the University of California Santa Barbara on behalf of No Kid Hungry. This research, released today, shows that when schools adopt a ‘Breakfast After the Bell’ program, they can potentially see chronic absenteeism rates drop, on average, by 6 percentage points.
The research consisted of two analyses: 1) an analysis of two states – Colorado and Nevada – that recently passed legislation requiring higher-poverty schools to serve breakfast as part of the school day and 2) a national analysis of young elementary school students who ate breakfast after the bell in their classrooms.
Findings included the following:
- Nationwide, 8 million students are ‘chronically absent,’ meaning they miss at least three weeks of school each year. That amounts to more than 100 million cumulative days of lost instruction. School officials are focused on finding ways to reduce this number.
- Officials across the nation have identified ‘Breakfast After the Bell’ programs as an effective tool to combat chronic absenteeism. Serving breakfast as part of the school day can reduce absenteeism by an average of six percentage points.
- For context, holding all other factors constant, a school where 22% of students are chronically absent (the average in the schools studied) could see that drop to 16% after implementing Breakfast After the Bell.
- While the focus of the study was absenteeism, exploratory analysis also found Breakfast After the Bell programs led to improvements in reading achievement and “internalizing behaviors,” such as anxiety, loneliness and sadness.
“We already know that serving breakfast as a seamless part of the school day helps ensure all children get the morning nutrition they need and is a positive experience for parents, students and schools alike. But this study provides additional evidence that it is intertwined with student success,” says Karen Wong, No Kid Hungry’s Senior Manager of Research and Evaluation. “These programs help all kids start the day with the nutrition they need to succeed, in turn guaranteeing all students are starting the day ready to learn, regardless of their background.”
About No Kid Hungry
No child should go hungry in America. But 1 in 7 kids will face hunger this year. No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger through effective programs that provide kids with the food they need. This is a problem we know how to solve. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of Share Our Strength, an organization working to end hunger and poverty. Join us at NoKidHungry.org