Eating breakfast has a positive association with students’ academic outcomes and attendance. Conversely, skipping breakfast is associated with decreased cognitive performance. In an effort to promote student breakfast and lunch consumption at school, federal policies such as the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) were enacted to provide free meals to schools and districts serving low-income student populations. Universal school breakfast programs can therefore mitigate food insecurity of families whose students are in the public school system; this is particularly true for urban schools and districts that serve students of racial/ethnic minority backgrounds and low-income families. However, despite provision of CEP and school breakfast programming, low participation rates pose implementation challenges for schools and districts trying to meet the needs of their students.
In collaboration with Dr. Gabriella McLoughlin from the College of Public Health at Temple University, and with funding from SNAP-Ed’s Eat Right Philly program, the Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) evaluated the determinants of implementing two different school breakfast programs and pragmatic strategies for serving breakfast in ways that maximize student participation. The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.
This study was conducted in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) during the 2018–19 and 2019–20 school year to answer the following research questions:
- What are the positive determinants to school breakfast model implementation and student participation in SDP schools?
- What are the negative determinants to school breakfast model implementation and in what ways can they be mitigated to maximize student participation?
- What are pragmatic strategies that schools can implement to mitigate negative determinants and increase reach of breakfast programming?
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