New FRAC Report Shows Need for Universal Meals
April 3, 2024

A key message coming from the Food Research & Action Center’s (FRAC) recently released report, The Reach of School Breakfast and Lunch During the 2022–2023 School Year, is: Healthy School meals for All policies and maximizing participation in Community Eligibility Provision are important strategies to ensure access to school meals. This combined with proven best practices for increasing participation, such as implementing innovative breakfast models and serving high-quality meals is the path forward.  Although it will take years to understand the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children, the end of the pandemic-era waivers that allowed schools to offer meals to all children at no charge had an immediate impact on school meal participation during this past school year.

Data from this year’s FRAC report shows a decrease of 1.2 million children in breakfast, and 1.8 million children in lunch compared to the 2021–2022 school year. Data reveals that that just over 14.3 million children received a school breakfast, and 28.1 million children received a school lunch on an average day during the school year. It’s important to note that this is the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that school meals returned to normal operations, meaning millions of children lost access of the free school meals waivers available in the spring of 2020 through the 2021-2022 school year.

Alternate site breakfast, such as Breakfast in the Classroom, is one proven strategy to boost participation levels. Consider our flagship brand of Breakfast Breaks which are shelf-stable, grab & go meal kits that can be easily distributed in the classroom at the start of the day. These meal kits are convenient, easy, no mess, no fuss. Other breakfast strategies include Breakfast Before the Bell, and kiosks. Innovative breakfasts to boost School Breakfast participation has been our focus at E S Foods for two decades so that schools can feed more hungry children.