School breakfast, served in the cafeteria before the bell rings, is one of the most underutilized federal nutrition programs because of its inaccessibility to students. For a variety of reasons, whether arriving late to school, wanting to be with friends in the morning, or the stigma associated with school breakfast being for the poor kids, school breakfast participation in free and reduced-price eligible students is only 34% statewide. By simply offering breakfast after the bell rings and changing the location of where the meal is offered, school breakfast participation increases to at least 70% in income eligible students.
Not only does Breakfast After the Bell increase students' access to a meal that fuels them academically, it's also an opportunity for students and teachers to break bread with each other. During breakfast time teachers gain the opportunity to check in with students about their well-being which helps inform how the school day will go in the classroom. Superintendents, Principals, and teachers across the state report that Breakfast after the Bell is improving classroom culture, student behavior, and student focus. After adopting this innovative delivery model, Principals report seeing a decrease in tardies, mid-morning disciplinary issues, and mid-morning nurse visits as a result of hunger-related complaints like stomachaches or headaches.
Since 2013 an additional 1,342,337 breakfasts have been served to Montana children as a result of making morning meals part of the school day, and 6,889 free and reduced-price eligible students across the state are eating breakfast daily. Out of the 804 schools in Montana that offer school lunch, 734 also participate in a breakfast program. Just over 40% of schools participating in breakfast choose to use a Breakfast After the Bell model.
Because more schools choose to switch to Breakfast After the Bell each year (an average of 22 schools per year have adopted the program since 2014), in 2018 Montana saw the largest increase in the nation for free and reduced-price student participation in school breakfast - an increase of 12.3%.
Our goal is to eliminate the barrier of hunger in schools so students can thrive academically and reach their fullest potential. By implementing an alternative service model that makes breakfast more accessible, more students receive proper nutrition every day of the year and not just during testing weeks. Alternative service models that have been proven successful in many schools across the state include Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab and Go, or Second Chance Breakfast.
Making breakfast part of the regular school day is taking care of Maslow's basic needs so students can climb Bloom’s pyramid of learning. Montana No Kid Hungry provides a range of resources to help schools design the perfect breakfast program to suit their site, staff and students.
Montana No Kid Hungry has already joined many schools across the state in making breakfast a priority - see the list of our past breakfast grantees to get motivated!
Hunger In Our Schools
See Breakfast in the Classroom in Action
All About Grab & Go Breakfast
Breakfast After First Period
Does Breakfast After the Bell Work in a Classroom?
What Do Montana Educators Think About Breakfast After the Bell?
Breakfast Myths Fact Sheet