• Written by Jacob Kirksey, Assistant Professor Educational Psychology & Leadership, Texas Tech University
Breakfast After the Bell programs reduce school absenteeism

The Research Brief[1] is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

Making a healthy breakfast available to students not only can help alleviate hunger and improve concentration at school; it also appears to encourage regular attendance, according to new research I co-authored.

In a study published in February 2021[2], my co-author[3] and I[4] explored how the rollout of Breakfast After the Bell programs at high-poverty schools in Colorado and Nevada have been linked to reductions in the number of students who were chronically absent. The programs extend free morning meals to learners unable to get into school before classes start.

Our study looked at levels of absenteeism in the last year before Breakfast After the Bell was introduced in the states – the 2013-2014 academic year – and two years after. In both states, high-poverty schools, where 70% or more students are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals, were mandated to adopt the program. In the 2015-16 academic year, approximately 25% of the schools met this criterion.

Our results show that the initiative increased both the overall number of students eating school breakfasts and how many qualified for free or reduced-priced school meals.

We also found that chronic absenteeism – defined as missing 15 days or more in the school year – declined in schools that adopted Breakfast After the Bell programs. On average, chronic absenteeism rates fell by about 8 percentage points. High schools saw twice as large a drop in chronic absenteeism rates compared to elementary and middle schools once the program was introduced.

As the state mandates applied only to high-poverty schools, we compared absenteeism in schools that approached that level – with 60%-69% of students on free and reduced lunch – with those just above that line, with 70%-79% of students eligible. We found chronic absenteeism rates were 8 percentage points lower than what we would expect for the 70%-79% group.

Why it matters

Schools across the country are wrestling with ways to open up fully to students[5] following COVID-19 school closures and remote classes.

As more in-person instruction resumes this fall, schools and policymakers must find ways to encourage consistent attendance for students and also address the disproportionate learning impact that the coronavirus has had on students from lower-income families and in communities of color. Findings from our study suggest that one way to not only improve attendance but also improve breakfast participation is to adopt programs like Breakfast After the Bell.

As research shows[6], consistent attendance is a key ingredient to the educational success for students. And expanding the availability and ease of getting breakfast at school would be particularly beneficial for students who depend on school meals as their primary source of nutrition.

What still isn’t known

While this study was able to link Breakfast After the Bell programs to reductions in chronic absenteeism, we still do not know much about the underlying reasons for this change.

It may be that students or their families are more motivated to come to school since breakfast is included as part of the regular school day. It could also be that such programs, which often include providing free meals to all students, reduce the stigma that could be associated with receiving a “free” meal for students. There is also research that suggests[7] that eating breakfast in smaller settings, like a classroom, reduces the spread of illnesses that are connected to student absenteeism.

What’s next

As organizations[8] and policymakers[9] continue to promote the adoption of Breakfast After the Bell programs, it is important that we consider how the implementation of these programs vary with respect to costs.

Shifting breakfast times and locations at school does not necessarily involve significant financial costs. But we should consider how Breakfast After the Bell may affect instructional time as well as the duties or responsibilities of teachers and other school staff. If breakfast is served as part of the regular school day and in class, there are potential delays and disruptions to classroom learning as teachers allow students to eat their breakfast and clean up.

For us as researchers, one important next step is to figure out how to best way to implement Breakfast After the Bell and mitigate any classroom disruptions.

[The Conversation’s newsletter explains what’s going on with the coronavirus pandemic. Subscribe now[10].]


  1. ^ Research Brief (
  2. ^ study published in February 2021 (
  3. ^ my co-author (
  4. ^ and I (
  5. ^ open up fully to students (
  6. ^ As research shows (
  7. ^ research that suggests (
  8. ^ organizations (
  9. ^ policymakers (
  10. ^ Subscribe now (

Authors: Jacob Kirksey, Assistant Professor Educational Psychology & Leadership, Texas Tech University

Read more

Metropolitan republishes selected articles from The Conversation USA with permission

Visit The Conversation to see more

Entertainment News

My Musical Journey – Zarbo

People call me Zarbo. I call myself an artist/producer currently focused on creating catchy electronic dance music and exploring new genres that didn’t exist at the beginning of my musical career in the ‘70’s.  I am the original founding member, fr...

Alex Zarbo - avatar Alex Zarbo

News Company asked some Music Industry “Insiders” their thoughts on the current state and future of “Real Music”

To get a feel for the current state of the music industry, NewsCo asked some insiders to share their thoughts. Here is what they had to say. Real Music, to me, means music created by real instruments where you can hear the bow go across the fiddle o...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

Navigating the Gender Gap, Part 2 For Women: How to Work with Men in Music

After comparing notes with some of my female music friends, I’ve come up with some pointers for women about working with male colleagues. As I mentioned in my previous article, “How to Work with Women in Music,” these guidelines are based on per...

Angela Predhomme - avatar Angela Predhomme

The Making Of “ Birkenhead Drill”

The process of self producing a full length album in the middle of a pandemic has been an unending lesson in humility, but it’s also affirmed our love of music and more importantly the music we make together. The journey of Birkenhead Drill taught ...

The Jones Title - avatar The Jones Title

A Healing Power of Rap and Rock

What do Jay-Z, Rick Ruben, Neil Diamond, Snoop Dogg, Chago G. Williams, and Toto’s Steve Lukather have in common?  They can be combined into Six Degrees of Inclusion (not separation per-se).   They all have millions of fans and they have all hugely...

Rebecca DGD - avatar Rebecca DGD

Gold selling and Platinum Award Winning Recording Artist Ny'a, giving back to her community

Gold selling and Platinum Award Winning Recording Artist Ny'a, will be Live in concert on Sessions Livestream, Saturday April 24th at 7:00pm EST. Tickets are $5 dollars, with a donation going to Rahway Food For Friends. Ny'a believe in giving back ...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

Metropolitan Business News

4 Creative suggestions for your first business card

Almost all businesses nowadays have a business card. Business cards are important to easily showcase your brand, yourself, and your business. However, not all business cards are made the same. Som...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo


Ask any of her thousands of global followers - especially the 11,000-plus who’ve learned to monetize their social media, and the 700-plus who’ve created six figure incomes – and they’ll be happy to ...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

Why Creativity Is So Important In Digital Marketing

The Role of Creativity in Digital Marketing's Future  As marketers, one of the key tasks is to be creative and look for ways to generate demand and interest in our services and products. Creati...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

Essential Tips for Developing Corporate Websites

The corporate industry, just like the others, is experiencing a massive technological revolution. Organizations have changed their marketing criteria by embracing the internet. Therefore, do not be ...

News Co - avatar News Co

How to Make a Personal Injury Claim for Minors

As a parent, you want to make sure your child is always safe. But as much as you want to keep him under your watch, it is impossible to be there for him all the time. When he is out there attendin...

News Co - avatar News Co

Dress for Success - Style Essentials for Every Businessmen

Did you ever glance at a person in passing and instantly think, “Wow, they must be successful”? It seems like the rich and successful people always stand out from the crowd without even trying, ...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

Writers Wanted

News Co Media

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion