Getting Started


Expanding the locations and methods used to serve breakfast in your district impacts many areas of your operation—from fiscal tracking to assigned labor hours and the foods served. Breakfast also impacts the daily routine and schedules of the school sites. Principals, custodians, teachers, and parents are all impacted by adding or changing breakfast service at their school. Preparation for change includes studying other “best practices” as well as identifying what type of expansion is most feasible through fiscal analysis.

Considering Expansion

If your district is considering expansion of school breakfast, there are many useful toolkits and resources available to support your efforts. Here are some of our favorites:

Additionally, local, state, and federal agencies are working throughout the country to provide the support, information, and education necessary for districts to successfully start or expand their breakfast programming.

Rather than duplicate work that is done well by others, we focus on the food service department’s operational and fiscal requirements to identify the best possible service model. We will also explore the essential factors for sustainable and successful breakfast programs.

Determining Feasibility and Expansion Type

What are your best opportunities for expansion? If your state legislation requires implementation of breakfast after the bell, and you are not currently compliant, then the state guidelines will outline the direction that you need to take. If there is no state legislation in place, how do you determine the expansion options that will work for you? It’s not uncommon to see a blend of service options from Traditional Breakfast to Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) in a single district. A flexible breakfast program can enable you to maximize participation levels depending on each school’s characteristics.

While breakfast service decisions are often determined on a school-by-school basis with consideration for individual site criteria and needs, it’s important to remember that the overall success of breakfast implementation is determined by your ability to balance the expenses and revenues in your fund. A common question is: what is the threshold of eligibility that will ensure fiscal success for universal breakfast implementation? And more specifically, what is the eligibility threshold for free and reduced-priced meals that will ensure fiscal sustainability for a universal BIC model? The common presumption is that a school should have at least 60% eligibility for free and reduced-priced meals to justify operating a universal program, but many districts challenge that notion.

Districts with 40% to 100% eligibility for free and reduced-priced meals can operate universal BIC in schools. They evaluate the potential by analyzing the probable participation results across all of their sites. As long as expenses do not exceed revenue, their breakfast expansion is fiscally sustainable. For traditional cafeteria breakfast service served before the bell, a typical threshold for implementation is 35% eligibility for free and reduced-priced meals, but it is not uncommon to see breakfast offered at much lower thresholds. 

Traditional breakfast can be managed with limited labor (depending on the menu), and it provides an option for hungry kids regardless of income level. Our Breakfast Site Calculator and Breakfast District-Wide Calculator will assist in analyzing the feasibility of expansion for your district. You can build “what if?” scenarios by setting up presumptions of participation based on the planned breakfast models at each of the schools in your district. The calculator will then extrapolate the revenue and expense for you.


Fiscal Health

By taking advantage of our Fiscal Management tools, you will have all of the pertinent data on labor, student participation, and the fiscal health of your department’s fund in one place. The critical data sets are:

  • By-site enrollment and eligibility data
  • Average daily participation by meal type
  • Average daily participation by eligibility
  • Staffing information by school site: number of employees, total labor hours
  • Current fund health: fund balance available to cover early start-up costs or deficits as the new breakfast program develops
  • Operational model type
  • District student transportation program

Breakfast After the Bell! Appleseed

Appleseed helps bring better grades, behavior, and health to over 60,000 NM children with Breakfast After The Bell legislation.


Visit our Breakfast Tools & Resources page for worksheets, calculators, signage, guides, and more.

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