Study finds school breakfast is a key to future success
February 27th, 2013
04:30 PM ET
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Breakfast might not just be the most important meal of a child's day - it might be one of most important meals of their life. A new study released Wednesday by non-profit group Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign shows the positive effect that school breakfast can have on a child's performance in class and on standardized tests, and what this can mean for their future.

Eleven million low-income students eat a school-provided breakfast. Share Our Strength partnered with professional services firm Deloitte to analyze third party studies and publicly available data to assess the impact of existing school breakfast plans on students' academic performance. They found some rather eye-opening statistics.

Students who ate school breakfast attended an average of 1.5 more days of school than their meal-skipping peers, and their math scores averaged 17.5% higher. The report, which was funded in part by Kellogg's, went on to share that these students with increased attendance and scores were 20% more likely to continue on and graduate high school. High school graduates earn on average $10,090 more annually that their non-diploma-holding counterparts and are significantly less likely to experience hunger in adulthood.

In Maryland alone, research indicated that increasing school breakfast participation among elementary and middle school students to 70% of the students currently receiving school lunch could lead Maryland to see up to an estimated 56,000 additional students achieving math proficiency, 14,000 more high school graduates over time and 84,890 fewer absences.

According to the USDA, participating school districts and independent schools receive cash subsidies ($1.55 for free breakfasts, $1.25 for reduced-price and $.27 for paid) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for each meal they serve. The breakfasts must meet federal requirements and be provided for free or reduced price to eligible children.

The hitch: only half of the 21 million children eligible for reduced-price or free lunch are taking advantage of the earlier meal. A previous report by Breakfast in the Classroom found that most schools participating in the federal School Breakfast Program serve breakfast in the cafeteria before the beginning of the official school day, making in necessary for children to arrive at school significantly before their classmates. Other students simply didn't know about the program, couldn't afford the time or found it difficult to work around their bus schedule.

A report released by the Food Research and Action Center and Florida Impact found the states that were most effective in reaching low‐income children (District of Columbia, New Mexico, South Carolina, and West Virginia) all contain schools that have implemented alternative solutions to increase breakfast consumption. Breakfast may be brought to the classroom, kids can grab food from carts around the school and eat it on the go, or they might have a second chance to eat after a first class of the day.

Officials for Share Our Strength are rallying their supporters to use an interactive map to identify schools in their area that are currently not participating in school breakfast programs in order to add additional data to their study. They hope to obtain data by March 31 on 10,000 schools currently not participating in the breakfast programs.

Read the full study

New program strives to get more lower-income students to eat breakfast
Tom Colicchio talks childhood hunger
Hungry at the holidays

More on the politics of school lunch

soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Cheap Steam Keys

    It's very effortless to find out any topic on net as compared to textbooks, as I found this piece of writing at
    this web site.

    July 9, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
  2. Name*Lizzy

    I'm jus doin a research on this topic and came across all those questions people have and it has really helped me with my study so as to work towards answering some of them

    May 17, 2014 at 11:27 am |
  3. jema

    thank you for this. i had to write an essay on this and it has taken me forever to find information and statistics like these so thank you very much. great job

    March 1, 2014 at 5:53 am |
  4. Corneliagfm




    November 28, 2013 at 2:22 am |
  5. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    We need to emphasize HEALTHY BREAKFAST – not pancakes, waffles, donuts, etc... Common people!

    February 28, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  6. Kriss

    Eating breakfast is not the only factor that determines a child's future success, but it is easier to focus on class discussions if the said child is not being distracted by his/her rumbling stomach. Furthermore, breakfasts should be nutritious, something home-cooked and "real" and not instant from a box or something.

    February 28, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  7. Heidi Bayer

    Reblogged this on Brooklyn Allergy Mom's Blog and commented:
    When I met Dr. Ruchi Gupta at the Mylan Blogger's Event in NYC recently, I told her that I actually love making breakfast for my child every day. Turkey bacon, rice, diced fruit, mint tea, toast – ours is anything but the usual American breakfast. When one has food allergies, breakfast becomes a very important meal of the day. What does your food allergy breakfast look like?

    February 28, 2013 at 8:21 am |
  8. Mr. Edvard DeHirsuteton

    Based on my own observations and studies over the years, I recommend multiple breakfasts. My family tends to have 3. We like to have a citrus drink upon rising with a fruit item like a banana and a spoonfull of peanut butter. Then, an hour or so later or after the physical training and meditations, we tend to have a plate of leafy vegetables with baked free-range squirrel, which we harvest locally. In late morning, we usually consume a large water with some scrambled eggs and a piece of salt-water taffy. We have found with our children that using this plan helps children perform at a level 3 times this study. (Also, no Kellogg products).

    February 28, 2013 at 6:18 am |
  9. Luke

    What about students who ate breakfast at home, where their choices of food were significantly more nutritious and healthier than the crap they serve at schools. Any studies on how these students performed? The focus should not be on getting more children to eat school provided breakfast, but rather, the focus should be on educating parents and getting children excited about the healthiest and affordable food choices for breakfast at home.

    February 28, 2013 at 4:53 am |
  10. Sunshine

    Chew on this: about 50% of the children living in the US went hungry because they did not know when their next meal would be. Pilot studies have shown that by serving breakfast in school the overall grade average of the school increased significantly. It's simply amazing what man can think about when man isn't thinking about being hungry.

    Consider this: What is the thing you think most of around 11:30 or so in the morning? Lunch is the number one answer. Lunch.

    February 28, 2013 at 3:32 am |
    • VladT

      Can I see the link that supposedly supports your claim that 1 out of 2 children go hungry not knowing where their next meal is?

      February 28, 2013 at 6:43 am |
      • madeup

        According to the National Center for Children in Poverty 22% of US children are living below the poverty line. A slightly higher percent are food insecure (hungry) according to FeedAmerica. More than 1 in 5 US children is still pretty horrific in this so-called space age we live in.

        March 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  11. sameeker

    Eat a good breakfast. That means avoiding Kellogs products. They are overpriced anyway.

    February 28, 2013 at 3:08 am |
  12. Michael

    Correlation is not causation. Unfortunately the person who wrote this article does not know anything approaching proper research methods. Editor, I hope to god you go educate yourself before spreading false information to the masses. Articles like this make CNN more of a joke every time they appear.

    February 28, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • Nicole

      The research isn't exclusively correlative- there have been trials, randomly assigning students or schools to breakfast va no breakfast. Of course, epidemiological research is the most abundant, like most of the social sciences, but the link between breakfast and increased school performance for low income students is strong.

      February 28, 2013 at 4:41 am |
  13. zaphed

    Another commercial to sell food? Our ancestors did not wake up each morning and found breakfast. BIUZZ off ans wake up.

    February 28, 2013 at 1:47 am |
    • Maha

      Do you have any proof that our ancestors did not eat breakfast?

      February 28, 2013 at 1:58 am |
  14. sgtstriker

    Why is it that lately I hear more and more commercials, paid for by the government,(we taxpayers), prompting people to apply for food stamps, EBT cards, Obama phones, school lunch programs, etc. That's my tax money paying for all of those programs AND for these commercials. That money did not belong to the Department of Agriculture, it belonged to me and others who pay taxes. Shouldn't the commercials be prompting folks to work for a living and pay their share, take care of your children – including feeding them breakfast before school every day? What is happening to this country and its inhabitants? Where is the pride in self reliance? If I am to judge you by the content of your character I'm afraid that I cannot judge many as deserving of any respect.

    February 28, 2013 at 1:45 am |
    • @ sgtstrikeout

      You communicate better when you are just drinking your big gulp.

      February 28, 2013 at 3:22 am |
    • Florist

      I'm pretty dismayed about this. It's an odd thing to try to force free food on people- it basically gets them dependent on government handouts. Free lunch has been going on for a long time, but now breakfast? It isn't a big leap to say that dinner is next. If kids eat every meal of the day at school, Democrats have people by the b@lls. All it takes then is a threat that Republicans will cut funding or if you don't do X, we'll cut funding. Imagine being used to your kid eating every meal at school. You'd feel panicked at the thought that you'd have to start coming up with the money to feed them at home. Between this and EBT being taken absolutely everywhere for everything, people are rapidly getting fully dependent. Why would we want this? What happened to the self-reliance of this country?

      February 28, 2013 at 3:36 am |
    • Joseph

      I grew up in an area with some very poor kids. Through no fault of their own (who their parents were), the kids were going hungry. When they came to school, they ate meals. This was often the only time that the kids knew they could eat. Over the weekend, the kids often did not – again not the kids' fault but the parents'. Yes, the parents may not be doing something right. But you honestly want to take food away from hungry children? Do you honestly think that is how things should work in America?

      February 28, 2013 at 6:17 am |
    • Barbara

      I agree 100% Close your legs if you can't afford children! The rest of us taxpayers should NOT have to bear YOUR burdens. In fact, we can't anymore - WE ARE LOSING OUR JOBS. No jobs - no one to pay taxes - and NO welfare.

      Get it, you cradle-to-grave moochers?

      February 28, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
      • Trinka

        Wow, such hatred for the poor. Are you proud of yourself? Welfare fraud constitutes maybe 2% of all cases...just wow, Babs. The sooner you ilk dies out, the better.

        February 28, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  15. baylordc

    Would suspect there would be some hidden variables in this. Maybe, for example – kids who eat breakfast at school every day are more likely able to afford to do so.. and we all know already there is high correlation from household income and child success.

    February 28, 2013 at 12:54 am |
  16. ash

    I remember in my 20s and 30s, when I was busy in school and then building a career, I would be glad if I could remember lunch, sometimes, I used to eat at 3 or 4 as the 1st meal of the day. Being excited, or hopeful is a bigger thing than food sometimes. Of course, if I were to do it all over again, I will get the breakfast.

    February 28, 2013 at 12:37 am |
  17. Brett

    It is hard to believe that this was actually posted. The "research" cited in the actual report isn't even close to being solid research, and the report makes a false leap from having school breakfast to achievement to increased earnings. There is absolutely nothing in the research to support this. The editor/poster – Kat Kinsman – should be ashamed. I can't believe I actually look at CNN – no longer.

    February 28, 2013 at 12:14 am |
  18. Jay in Florida

    Apparently, conducting "studies" biased in their favor to hijack the school budgets to server their sugar infested cereals, works better for Kellog's marketing department, than Tony the Tiger commercials.

    February 27, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • ash

      sugar infested, LOL, good one.

      February 28, 2013 at 12:38 am |
  19. Jay in Florida

    Fine, make them obese. It is funny how institutions degenerate studies and obliterate other facts in order to achieve numbers that look good to go ask for bigger budgets. The goal here is obviously to hyperinflate school budgets one more time by extending food to the kids using this study as pretext. All this will achieve is an 80% obesity rate in Maryland. I hope they approve it... they deserve it.

    February 27, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
  20. John

    The wifey gets 10cc's of protein every other morning for breakfast.

    February 27, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • ben

      I signed up just to give you a thumbs up. Mine prefers the protein on her face, her complexion is excellent!

      February 28, 2013 at 12:38 am |
      • >_>

        Cool story bro.

        February 28, 2013 at 12:53 am |
  21. laura

    I remember not being able to eat breakfast before school because my parents had untreated, albeit relatively mild, mental illnesses that disrupted and delayed my morning routine. The stress of mornings made me too nauseous to eat at all before school even though I had food at home to eat. Isn't there already a causative relation between poor mental health being the root of many of these low income families' earning potential in addition to their income negatively impacting their child's intellectual potential? I believe morning routine should be studied in more depth, also, in relation to student success. I ended up quitting high school; although, I obtained a degree after leaving home..

    February 27, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
  22. Abdulmumin Lukman A Danbakaba

    Breakfast is good...,.so use anything eatable & do your breskfast & also, humanbeings we are not equal, is either u r a rich uman or u r a poor man. if u r a rich man then u most supply everything intact for breakfast but what about a poor man.....

    February 27, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • chiefsadler

      Rich or poor – both can eat unhealthy. The key is to have a little protein and good vitamins – vegetable and fruits are key. And in poor countries you can get lots of fruits and vegetable cheap – or you can grow them yourself – just educate yourself on how to grow things like brocoli and fresh green leafs that you can eat and you'll be okay.

      February 28, 2013 at 6:43 am |
  23. Robert Toews

    Free breakfast and lunch should be offered in all public schools. The potential benefits far outweigh the relative daily costs of each student's education.

    February 27, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • ri

      many are unaware that many children do not eat when they are not at school. any time you can provide low income children with food it is a good thing.

      February 28, 2013 at 1:48 am |
  24. Nicole

    I am a teacher at a very low-income high school. We have many students who simply don't have food at home. Most of our students eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner here (if they stay for after-school programs). In order for my students to focus on math, they need to not be stressed about a basic need, such as food. Although I am not exactly on board with a breakfast study conducted by Kellogg's (which is likely profit driven), I do see how food anxiety affects my kids.

    February 27, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Just_realistic

      Sadly, in how many of these homes do the parents smoke and sport tats? Failed priorities unfortunately abound in lower income areas :(

      February 27, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
      • required

        that's no reason to take it out on the children by ignoring the problem.

        February 27, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • ash

      All kids should get breakfast at school, whether they can buy it or not. That is probably the single best use of my taxes. As for adults, they are on their own.

      February 28, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • Barbara

      Walk down to any taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood and get on the FREE birth control pills! There is no excuse for hungry children. Stop the bleeding heart emotionalism.

      February 28, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
      • Trinka

        No, there isn't any excuse for hungry children, but how does walking down to PP help the hungry children already HERE, Babs? You would what, have them starve??

        February 28, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  25. patrick potter

    go-getters eat breakfast. this is just correlation not causation. its like the wine thing.

    February 27, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
  26. drbilltoth

    Wow! What an ASSumption.....that kids that fail to eat breakfast AT SCHOOL.....simply fail to eat breakfast and that's why they're doing poorly in school. Wow. That's a big leap. And those food subsidies...prevent schools from allowing kids to swap green beans for potatoes or an apple for an orange....and sooooo much food is simply thrown away. Go to your kids school and see it for yourSelf. I ddi. Live with Intention,

    February 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  27. doky999

    As a Sophomore in a top high school in New Jersey, I feel that when I wake up around 6:15 am for school and have breakfast, which means, OJ + Peanut Butter Toast, maybe a quick egg or something along those lines, I am more alert, awake and just not tired. I feel more 'full' and focused besides being all drousy and just feeling like crap. I also try and eat breakfast when I can, some-days I just cant lol. But hey, its always good to eat breakfast!

    February 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
  28. BeefcakeCharlie

    Eating breakfast gives me an upset stomach and always leads to awful stomach cramps and (not trying to be crude) at least 30 minutes on a bathroom break at work.

    February 27, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • Billy

      You are allergic to something => Most likely Lactose or Gluten Intolerant

      February 27, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
      • Nicole

        Where'd you get your MD? A cracker jack box?

        Lactose intolerance isn't an allergy, it's an inability to digest lactose. Gluten intolerance (Celiac, not the fake disease many people diagnose themselves with) is an autoimmune reaction that happens when you eat gluten. Also not an allergy.

        Allergies typically manifest with histamine reactions- upper respiratory, swelling in the mouth and face, difficulty breathing, rash, itchiness,metc.

        February 28, 2013 at 4:50 am |
  29. proudmary

    I'm confused about this appears to assume that kids who didn't get breakfast at school aren't getting it at home. A strange assumption to make, although perhaps not since it was funded by Kellogg's.

    February 27, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  30. billy

    Wait a darned second. Part of this study was funded by Kellogg's? LOL – are yo kidding me?! You mean to tell me the folks whose profits will increase if this story celebrates breakfast actually paid to have this "study" done? And CNN is broadcasting it? Come on, guys.

    February 27, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Jay in Florida

      Apparently, conducting "studies" biased in their favor to hijack the school budgets to server their sugar infested cereals, works better for Kellog's marketing department, than Tony the Tiger commercials.

      February 27, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
  31. John

    Soft, scrambled eggs on buttered, thick slices of whole-wheat toast with a rasher of thick-cut smoked bacon.

    February 27, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  32. billy

    Somewhat bothersome first sentence coming from a national news organization like CNN: "Child's" is singular. "Their" is plural.

    February 27, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • lindsey

      "their" is commonly used as a singular replacement of "his or her(s)". just like "they" is commonly used to replace "he or she". these typically plural pronouns are used because they are gender neutral. thanks for being pedantic though.

      February 27, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
      • antecedent

        You obviously do not know that if the antecedent is singular, the possessive pronoun should also be singular. It sounds as if you're making up your own rules of grammar. I assure you that Billy was not being pedantic.

        February 27, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
        • billy

          Thanks. Could've easily been fixed to read, "Breakfast might not just be the most important meal of the day for children . . ."

          February 28, 2013 at 1:17 am |
  33. Trayleen

    You need to eat a sensible meal at breakfast in order to start your day out right. I eat a big enough meal at breakfast that I don't need to eat lunch. So by the time dinner time comes along I'm hungry & I usually eat something healthy. Most times I have a salad that's made up of lettuce, carrots, green olives, tomatoes, shredded cheese & chicken.
    NEVER been overweight in my life. I'm 48 years old & weigh 135 pounds.

    February 27, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • TSnj

      I'm similar in habit and age to you, Trayleen. At 135, I have to assume you're female. I'm male, 48, 170 (max — haven't weighed myself recently) I always eat breakfast, I make sure I get plenty of protein when I eat my meals and I rarely drink soda, bottled juices or teas. Usually water, milk or coffee. Yes, milk. I'm 48 and I still drink it. Often.

      February 28, 2013 at 12:29 am |
  34. Loves BReakfast

    I ALWAYS eat breakfast!! I LOVE breakfast!! Here's what I eat:

    french toast ,pancakes


    Russian bread

    oatmeal (Instant oatmeal,either Quacker or Nature valley)

    So in other hands,I LOVE breakfast,and always eats it,yet I have a 1.58 GPA!!! Whats wrong with me?????

    February 27, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • dsavio

      The problem is you eat dessert for breakfast.

      February 27, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
      • byrce

        Seriously. Carbs, with sugar on top. That's not breakfast/

        February 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • >_>

      You're overloading on carbs big time. Throw in some bacon, eggs, anything with good fats and protein.

      February 28, 2013 at 1:00 am |
  35. imuneek

    We ate breakfast every day growing up and didn't need our already impoverished school district short-changing its teachers to pay for another handout. It's called, buy a dozen eggs or some oatmeal and fix your kids breakfast. Breakfast foods are cheap and easy to prepare, and if you're that poor, you can usually find cereal and oats at the food bank.

    February 27, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  36. Chante D

    How many of you out there have ever had a school breakfast? I teach at a suburban, upper-middle class middle school and have morning duty in the cafeteria. The food is subpar to say it nicely. I totally understand why the kids choose not to eat it even when they have free lunch bc the food is bland, tastelss and over all...not so great. The kids are forced to take a piece of fruit and it is either thrown across the cafeteria at someone or immediately thrown away. The kids I see eating breakfast have sugary cereal filled with chocolate milk, cans of juice with 150 plus calories each, Starbucks, Monster drinks, and on at least a couple occassions each week, kids eating ice cream for breakfast. Parents don't monitor their kids eating behaviors at school and when you sign that snack waiver, it's for all the things that the USDA doesn't want your kid to eat and the school district makes $$ off of at inflated prices! Get smarter parents!

    February 27, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  37. Peter

    This is another propaganda campaign by Kelloggs (General Mills...on and on). One diet doesn't work for everyone. Not everyone needs to eat breakfast. It's beneficial for some, but this "eat your breakfast to succeed" is just not right. If you don't eat breakfast and live fine, then there's no reason to force a breakfast regimen.

    February 27, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • albertgall

      OK...wise guy; Let's just say it's important to 99.9999.....% of the population. That means everybody except you!

      February 27, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
      • billy

        Maybe you're the one who isn't so wise. Kellogg's put money into this study. Ever heard of the phrase "conflict of interest"? Look it up.

        February 27, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  38. Dana R

    Correlation is not causation. Students from poor families are less likely to get breakfast. Students from poor families are less likely to do well in school. That doesn't mean that skipping breakfast causes lower performance.

    February 27, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  39. Wow

    Yep, breakfast every day is important! A fried egg on top of some white bread every day isn't going to do anyone any favors though.

    February 27, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • albertgall

      Another wise one here. A fried egg, poached, scrambled or otherwise on any type of bread is excellent vs. no breakfast at all!

      February 27, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
      • JoJo

        Those egg yokes are artery blockers. Alternate with oatmeal.

        February 27, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Ricardo

      But perhaps a heart-shaped egg will. Maybe signs of love makes one score better in math?

      February 27, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  40. Joey

    My sister never ate breakfast throughout grade school and high school. Sure she's short (I'm sure she would've grown taller if she had eaten breakfast), but she went off to study at Berkeley and Stanford graduate school. Hmm..

    February 27, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • albertgall

      Wow! Can you imagine that? If she'd have had breakfast every morning she could have also mastered Harvard and Yale!

      February 27, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
      • Joey

        She did get into Harvard and Yale but chose not to go because I went there - needed to mix it up a bit.

        February 27, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
  41. havanas

    Not eating a breakfast is not a diet technique, it's just stupid.

    February 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  42. breakfast ?

    I usually skip breakfast and just do lunch and dinner. Maybe that's part of the reason why i'm not a fat person also.

    February 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • upyours

      I used to skip breakfast. It's certainly not the only reason, but it is one of the ingredients that got me up to 420#.

      No, I don't work for Kellogg. I do take their data with a grain of salt.

      That having been said I think that eating a healthy breakfast is common sense.

      February 27, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  43. Jocho Johnson

    Keep in mind this study was funded by Kellogg, a breakfast cereal manufacturer

    February 27, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  44. James

    When I was in elementary school, my mom would drop me off a little early so I could eat breakfast in the cafeteria. We weren't low-income, she just liked the convenience. I got to eat some cereal or some powdered eggs with my school mates. I would like to see this idea promoted for all children, and not just a low-income sort of thing.

    February 27, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • Clown

      I was known as the pancake kid in elementary school, get off the bus go straight to cafateria and get a tall stack almost everyday.

      February 27, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  45. Lauralea

    As a nutritionist, I know the importance of a good breakfast. The habit started in childhood- Mom made us some great breakfasts, and one had an "egg in a frame" like the photo above.

    February 27, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • James

      mmm those are good. My mom would call those "Egg in a nest." :-D

      February 27, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  46. John

    I HAVE to eat breakfast, I'm very hungry in the morning. It would be stupid to ignore your hunger when the day is starting out. Not a good idea.

    February 27, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
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