Pa. Launches Governor’s School Breakfast Challenge

HARRISBURG, PA – Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin has announced the creation of the Governor’s School Breakfast Challenge, a three-month program to encourage increased participation in the Universal Free Breakfast Program.

Gov. Josh Shapiro fought for and delivered universal free breakfast as part of his first budget, and his Administration is working with schools to increase participation to ensure more students get healthy, nutritious meals to start the day.

“When students can depend on receiving nutritious meals at school, it relieves them from at least one major stressor in their life, and we know that students perform better, are more attentive, and have fewer behavioral problems when their brains and bodies are well nourished,” said Mumin. “The Universal Free Breakfast Program demonstrates the Shapiro Administration’s commitment to ensuring all children start the day with a full belly, and we encourage schools across the Commonwealth to join us for the Governor’s School Breakfast Challenge.”  

The Challenge recognizes schools for increasing breakfast participation while implementing sustainable changes that incorporate more nutritious and local foods in their meal offerings. Challenge criteria are listed on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) website, and later this year, schools with the greatest success in participation will be recognized by the Shapiro Administration.

Shapiro’s inaugural budget included $46.5 million in funding to continue providing universal free breakfast through the 2023-24 school year. Rather than a one-time influx, Shapiro’s proposal provides ongoing, sustainable state funding for free breakfast in the years to come, because students learn better on a full stomach. The funding also allowed students who qualify for reduced meals to receive lunch at no cost.

Under the Universal Free Breakfast Program, PDE uses the existing meal reimbursement program to pay schools for the difference between the free federal reimbursement and paid or reduced-price meal reimbursement so that no student has an out-of-pocket cost for a reimbursable breakfast and students eligible for reduced lunch can receive a school lunch at no cost to their families. Reimbursement applies only to standard breakfast and lunch served at schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.

Schools that do not currently participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs can find information for applying on PDE’s website.

On average, more than 455,000 free breakfasts are served each day in Pennsylvania schools. More than 3,000 schools participate in the program, and more than 1.7 million students are eligible for free breakfast every day. Since the program began, school breakfast participation is up overall, with participation doubling among students who would usually have to pay full price.

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