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Nutrition and Wellness Programs


School Breakfast Mandate


(updated 8/24/16)

Public Act 096-0158 requires that the board of education of each school district in this State shall implement and operate a School Breakfast Program in the next school year in accordance with federal guidelines in each school building within its district in which at least 40 percent or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. District may determine serving venue. State reimbursement to offset a portion of the cost of the meal is available if a site serves a reimbursable meal to a student eligible for a free meal and the site is enrolled in the Illinois Free Breakfast and Lunch Programs. Both state and federal reimbursement is available if a site enrolls in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and/or School Breakfast Program (SBP).

Breakfast After the Bell Mandate

Public Act 99-0850 requires every public school in which at least 70 percent of the students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches in October of the preceding year* must operate a breakfast after the bell program. Breakfast after the bell means breakfast is provided to children after the instructional day has officially begun and does not prohibit schools from also providing breakfast before instructional day begins.  Schools may choose whatever delivery model that best suits the students. Typical options include:

  • Breakfast in the Classroom: Food is delivered (by staff, students or volunteers) to each classroom after school begins and students are permitted to eat breakfast in the classroom.
  • Grab and Go: Students pick-up bagged or boxed breakfast from carts or specified areas and are permitted to eat in either designated areas or the classroom.
  • Breakfast After First: An extended passing or breakfast period is offered in the cafeteria, following the first or second period of the day.
  • Other options include serving breakfast during an early recess or outdoor lesson. As long as breakfast is offered to all students after the instructional day has begun, schools and districts have great flexibility in serving breakfast after-the-bell.

State reimbursement to offset a portion of the cost of the meal is available if a site serves a reimbursable meal to a student eligible for a free meal and the site is enrolled in the Illinois Free Breakfast and Lunch Programs. Both state and federal reimbursement is available if a site enrolls in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and/or School Breakfast Program (SBP).

  • How to Determine Schools/Sites Are Mandated to Operate the School Breakfast Program PDF File (8/16)
  • Petition for Exemption:
  • Districts may be relieved from this Breakfast After the Bell requirement if they demonstrate either:
    1. they are delivering a school breakfast effectively, as defined by 70% or more of the free and reduced-price students participating in the School Breakfast Program
      - or -
    2. due to circumstances specific to that school district, the expense reimbursement would not fully cover the costs of implementing and operating a breakfast after the bell program. District must submit cost analysis to district’s board of education, district board holds public hearing, and district board passes a resolution that district cannot afford to operate a breakfast after the bell program.

      District must post date, time, place, and subject matter of meeting on its website; notify ISBE by emailing cnp@isbe.net at least 14 days prior to the hearing; and submit final resolution approving the breakfast after the bell exemption to ISBE by emailing cnp@isbe.net upon passage.