MEDIA RELEASE: North Carolina Ranks 7th on Annual School Breakfast Participation Scorecard

More than 58 percent of Low-Income Students Receive the Nutrition They Need to Learn and Thrive from School Breakfast

RALEIGH (Feb. 13, 2018) — Nearly 400,000 low-income children in North Carolina are starting their day with a healthy school breakfast. 

According to the School Breakfast Scorecard, released today by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC, a national anti-hunger advocacy group), more than 2,500 schools across North Carolina participated in the national School Breakfast Program in 2016–2017. North Carolina ranks 7th in school breakfast participation among all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“School breakfast means less hunger, better health, and improved educational outcomes for our children,” said Alexandra Sirota, Director of the Budget & Tax Center. “The many schools in our state that are offering breakfast at no charge to all students and serving breakfast after the bell are ensuring that children start the school day ready to learn. We strongly encourage other schools to follow their lead so that more children may benefit.”

North Carolina’s ranking in terms of the number of schools participating in the School Breakfast Program can be attributed in large part to the implementation of community eligibility, which allows high-poverty schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students, and alternative breakfast models that move breakfast out of the cafeteria and after the first bell. Offering breakfast in the classroom and after the school day starts helps schools and students overcome common barriers such as late bus arrivals, tight household budgets, and the stigma associated with school breakfast as being only for low-income children. Used together, these two approaches can dramatically move the needle on school breakfast participation.

While North Carolina’s participation rate in the School Breakfast Program is high, there is more work to be done to make sure that all children are eating breakfast. FRAC has set an ambitious, but achievable, goal of reaching 70 low-income children with school breakfast for every 100 receiving school lunch, and the report finds that 58 low-income children in North Carolina ate school breakfast for every 100 that received free or reduced-price school lunch during the 2016–2017 school year. This is above the national average of 56.7 low-income children eating school breakfast for every 100 who received school lunch in the 2016–2017 school year. 

About the School Breakfast Scorecard 

This report measures the reach of the School Breakfast Program in the 2016–2017 school year — nationally and in each state — based on a variety of metrics, and examines the impact of select trends and policies on program participation. On an average school day, nearly 12.2 million low-income children participated in the School Breakfast Program in school year 2016–2017. While participation from year to year has continued to increase, the rate of growth has slowed, from an average of 390,000 additional students in each of the four preceding years to nearly 70,000 additional students in the 2016–2017 school year. Read the School Breakfast Scorecard in full.


The nonpartisan Budget & Tax Center is a project of the NC Justice Center, which works to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring that every household in the state has access to the resources, services and fair treatment it needs to achieve economic security.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT Alexandra Sirota, Director of the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center, at or, 919.861.1468; or Mel Umbarger, Budget & Tax Center Senior Communications Specialist, at