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School Breakfast and Summer Meal Grants

School Breakfast Program and Summer Meal Programs Start-up and Expansion Grants.

The School Breakfast Program (SBP) and School Meal Programs (SMP) Start-up and Expansion Grants, administered by the California Department of Education, provide schools with funding to start-up or expand their SBP and SMP.

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For questions regarding the content of this web page, please contact the Breakfast Grant team by phone at 800-952-5609 or by email at


The California State Legislature appropriates approximately $1.017 million in the annual state budget for School Breakfast Program (SBP) and Summer Meal Programs (SMP) Start-up and Expansion Grants. California Education Code Section 49550.3 authorizes the California Department of Education (CDE) to award competitive grants of up to $15,000 per school site for nonrecurring expenses incurred when initiating or expanding an SBP or SMP. The following types of grants are available:

  • Start-up grants for costs associated with starting an SBP or SMP site
  • Expansion grants for costs associated with increasing program participation at an existing SBP or SMP site

Grant Eligibility

Who Can Apply?

Public school districts, county offices of education, and directly funded charter schools can apply for this grant funding. Each School Food Authority (SFA) may apply for no more than 10 sites for up to $15,000 per site. Please note that private schools, residential child care institutions, and juvenile detention centers are ineligible to apply for or receive these grants. Only school sites are eligible for a grant.

For SBP grants, the SFA must have at least 20 percent of students enrolled at the site approved for F/RP meals. For SMP grants, sites must meet all Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) eligibility criteria.

Also, an SFA must have a current vendor number on file with the California State Controller’s Office to be eligible for an SBP or SMP grant. SFAs can obtain a vendor number from the CDE as part of the application process to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), SBP, or SMP. To begin the NSLP, SBP, or SMP application process, please contact Gina Stahlecker, School Nutrition Programs Specialist, by phone at 916-445-1640 or by email at Grant recipients must be approved to participate in the SBP or SMP prior to receiving their first grant payment.

SFAs should keep the following information in mind when applying for this grant:

  • SFAs may receive a grant for the same site no more than once every three years.  
  • Eligible SFAs may apply for the SBP grant or the SMP grant; however, SFAs may not request both grants for one site.
  • The CDE may consider SFAs with excess net cash resources (NCR) to be ineligible to receive a grant. In accordance with Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 210.14(b), an SFA shall limit its NCRs to an amount that does not exceed three months’ average expenditures from its food service account. SFAs with excess NCRs must include a detailed explanation of their excess NCRs in their application.
  • SFAs must be in good standing in all Child Nutrition Programs in which they participate.
  • Each SFA may apply for no more than 10 sites for up to $15,000 per site.

Grant Award Information

  • If your SFA requires board approval to receive grant funding, please provide a copy of the board approval with your grant application. The CDE will not process an application without these approvals (if needed).
  • All grant recipients must sign and return the original grant award notification (GAN) before the CDE will release grant funds. An original GAN includes the signature of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • The CDE will bill SFAs for any grant funds received or may withhold final payment if the requirements of the grant are not fulfilled. Please note that awarded SFAs must be approved to participate in the SBP or SMP before receiving their first grant payment.
  • If an SFA knowingly submits false information on the grant application or invoices, the CDE may deny or recover the SFA’s grant funding.
  • The CDE will provide funding for SBP or SMP grants as long as funds are available. Please note that the CDE will provide grant recipients with 90 percent of the funding at the time of award and the remaining 10 percent upon approval of all invoices. The CDE will recover funds from SFAs that do not submit invoices for approved budget items within the grant award time frame.
  • The CDE will send grant awardees an approved procurement form, which represents an estimate of approved grant expenses for claim submittal.
  • The CDE administers these grants and reserves the right to make changes to the approved budget, which includes reducing the amount of funding to reflect actual, allowable, and reasonable costs.


The request for applications for the School Breakfast Program and Summer Food Service Program start-up and Expansion Grants is typically announced in January each year. You can download the grant application package and instructions from the California Department of Education Available Funding web page. The 2024–25 application is due no later than Friday, March 1, 2024, by 4 p.m.


The following links include current and previous school year (SY) program grant recipients for the School Breakfast Program and Summer Food Service Program grant

SY 2023–24

SY 2022–23 (XLSX)

SY 2021-22 (XLSX)

SY 2020–21

SY 2019–20

SY 2018–19

SY 2017–18


Application Scoring Criteria

The California Department of Education (CDE) will score all applications and award grants competitively, based on a comprehensive scoring criteria matrix. The scoring matrix factors in relevant components such as innovation and detailed budget descriptions. The maximum number of points is 100.

All school food authority (SFA) applications are scored based on the following criteria:

  1. An explanation of any public or private funding that the SFA has received for starting or expanding a School Breakfast Program (SBP) or Summer Meal Programs (SMP). This can include funding from an outside source such as a private citizen, local health department, community organization, etc. Please indicate if no outside funding has been collected (up to 5 points).

  2. An explanation of the technical assistance (TA) or funding, beyond normal operating support, that the SFA will provide to the site(s). For example, the CDE will not award points for a description stating that the SFA will use its information technology staff to wire or program computers or to pay custodians to clean the classrooms, etc. However, the CDE will award points if the SFA proposes to provide Breakfast in the Classroom training to its teachers. Please indicate if the SFA will not provide additional TA or funding. The CDE does not consider financial support from the cafeteria fund to be special funding. However, financial support from the SFA’s General Fund is considered to be special funding. If this section is blank, the CDE will not award points (up to 5 points).

  3. A detailed explanation that describes the existing barriers that hinder the SFA’s ability to provide breakfast, restrict the SFA’s ability to operate the SMP, or decrease children’s ability or desire to participate in the SBP or SMP. Describe the innovative measures designed to maximize participation in these programs. Examples of barriers could be early or late bus schedules, meal time constraints, student and staff attitudes toward the SBP or SMP, lack of updated equipment, etc. (up to 10 points).

  4. Identification of innovative strategies designed to maximize participation. Examples of innovative strategies in the SBP include Breakfast on the Bus, Grab-and-Go Breakfast, and Breakfast After the Bell (BATB) service models like Breakfast in the Classroom and Second Chance Breakfast (up to 30 points).

    Note: Please be assured that SFAs can provide students with Breakfast in the Classroom while appropriate educational activities are taking place without concern regarding an instructional minutes audit exception.

    Examples of innovative strategies in the SMP include hosting a summer meals kick-off event, planning a farm to summer event using local produce and including a nutrition education lesson, and planning barbecues. Be sure to include any activities that your agency will offer such as baseball, crafts, etc. Giveaways and contests are not considered innovative; however, a marketing plan designed to increase participation may be considered innovative.

  5. Budgets that identify equipment purchases, site outreach, promotional items and activities, and training (if applicable). The proposed budget should include a detailed description of how the expenses will support the program, as well as how innovation will be used to enhance the program and overcome the barriers to student participation (up to 20 points).

    • Equipment: Be specific and reflect quantities for each item. For example, use descriptions like an insulated utility cart versus a cart, or three-door refrigerator versus refrigerator. A detailed description also includes a justification of how the item will be used and how the item supports start-up or expansion efforts. Address what barriers to participation the expenditure will resolve. If the equipment costs more than $1,000, include the name of the vendor that provided the price quote and how the equipment will promote innovation.

    • Outreach and Promotion: List each item that your SFA plans to purchase. The CDE suggests that SFAs estimate the number of times they plan to distribute letters, flyers, and other sources of outreach during the entire grant period; recurring costs cannot be billed more than once per year. The SFA should then request the amount needed for costs associated with ongoing outreach and promotional activities for the year. Some expenses—such as food, staff salaries, clothing, and giveaways—are not allowable costs under this grant.

    • Training: Include any allowable training expenses. Training on customer service and on innovative breakfast models like Breakfast in the Classroom and Second Chance Breakfast are allowable. Travel-related expenses for vendors and staff are not allowable. Some training expenses such as salaries and benefits, conference and membership fees, and subscriptions are not allowable costs under this grant.

Please be specific in your budget justifications. The CDE will deduct points if the SFA is not clear regarding how the expenditures will support or increase participation in either the SBP or SMP.

While the following criteria are not required, the CDE will award additional points if the site:

  1. Implements a new SBP or SMP (15 points)

  2. Has 50–100 percent free or reduced-price student eligibility (10 points)

  3. Agrees to operate the SBP or SMP for no less than three years (5 points)

Best Practices

Grant Application

Below are some best practices to consider when completing the grant application:

  • Read the grant instructions and make sure to take note of the due date. Grant applications must be received by the California Department of Education’s (CDE) mail room (not postmarked) by the due date. The CDE does not accept submissions that are faxed, sent by email, or late submissions.
  • The equipment you request should support the barriers and innovative ideas that are detailed in your grant application. If you write a compelling narrative for the need to implement Second Chance Breakfast on the playground during recess in the innovative ideas section, but you request an oven to replace an old one in the equipment section, you would likely receive a low score. The equipment should connect with your school food authority’s (SFA) innovative ideas. Explain how and why the equipment supports your innovative idea. For example, an applicant might argue that Second Chance Breakfast will increase participation, which makes it necessary for the SFA to purchase a new oven to keep up with the new demand.
  • The cost of the equipment should be based on a quote from a vendor (including tax, shipping, etc.). Take the time to obtain at least one quote (ideally three) for each piece of equipment you are requesting. You want to have a realistic idea of how much the equipment will cost before you submit a grant application.
  • Be descriptive in the narrative sections. For example, “The XYZ School District wants to implement Second Chance Breakfast on the playground and is requesting funds for a cart to bring breakfast to the students.” In the section for innovative ideas, explain specifically where you plan to put the cart, how you know that the location is ideal, how you will ensure that meals are counted and claimed correctly, and who will set up the cart each morning. If possible, include data such as the potential percentage of increase for participation.
  • When applying for the grant, work with all possible parties to ensure your plans can be carried out. For example, if you request a grant to fund a Breakfast in the Classroom meal service model, make sure that all of the involved parties (e.g., teachers, custodians, principal) approve the plan.

Grant Award

Below are some best practices to consider if your SFA has been awarded a grant:

  • Begin the procurement process as soon as you receive your grant award. SFAs generally have less than one year to spend the money. Some SFAs have lengthy procurement processes, so it is best to get started right away to avoid having to return unspent funding to the CDE.
  • Submit your completed procurement form and invoices to the CDE as soon as possible. This will allow prompt final payment. This will also allow the CDE to reallocate any unspent funds to other SFAs in need.

  • If you need to make any changes to your approved budget, send a request to for written approval.

Success Stories

Below are success stories from school food authorities (SFA) that received a School Breakfast/Summer Food Service Program Start-up/Expansion Grant.

San Jacinto Unified School District

We were very fortunate to have been awarded $38,610 for the 2016-17 SY School Breakfast Program and Summer Food Service Program Start-up and Expansion Grant. We purchased four breakfast carts, four Point-of-Service (POS) terminals, one cold-cart speed line, one cashier stand and one desktop computer. We purchased the breakfast carts to implement the Grab-and-Go Breakfast program at two of our school sites. On the opening day, at one site, we served 60 more students breakfast, and by the second day 100 more students. Our Breakfast on the Go continues to be a success as it grants students easy access and breaks down time constraint barriers. Overall we served an additional 21,275 breakfast meals, which was an increase in revenue of $30,292. We have received positive feedback from our students and will be implementing this program in some of our other sites for the 17-18 SY.

We were also excited to be awarded the cold-cart speed line, the cashier stand and the desktop computer as we had a new expansion at our school site and needed to be able to accommodate the additional students. This equipment has helped us adequately meet the needs of our students.

For any SFAs looking to improve their breakfast program I would highly recommend taking the time to apply for this breakfast grant. It has been instrumental in helping us improve our breakfast participation as well as provide our students with the quantity and quality of food they deserve.

Paradise Unified School District

Paradise Unified School District was awarded $90,000 Breakfast Expansion Grant funding. With these dollars we were able to purchase a breakfast bar and serving line for one of our elementary schools. This school had been serving breakfast from a table in the middle of the hallway as they never built a school kitchen or a dining hall. This new feature made the students feel so special. We've increased participation in breakfast at this school site by 16%. This line is set up as a grab and go style.

My advice to you is to take a look at your barriers, talk to staff, students and parents and see what's preventing students from participating in your breakfast. Then when you've narrowed the issue(s), take a look at what you need to make it happen. Next read the grant details, and once you understand what the grant is looking for, write your needs into that. They want you to have the money to improve your program and it's all in the grant proposal. Think out of the box and you'll make it happen.

More success stories coming soon.


Below is a list of frequently requested equipment that supports innovative School Breakfast Program and Summer Meal Programs service models:

  • Wireless point-of-sale systems
  • Wagons and insulated bags for Breakfast in the Classroom service
  • Delivery vehicle
  • Portable steam table
  • Blender
  • Yogurt machine
  • Smoothie machine
  • Horizontal wrapper
  • Refrigerated truck
  • Mobile food service cart
  • Salad bar
  • Merchandising kiosk
  • Speed line—cold and hot
  • Grab and Go refrigerator
  • Dough divider
  • Barbecue equipment
  • Milk cooler

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. We do not participate in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) or Summer Meal Programs (SMP). Can we apply for a grant?
    Agencies must be approved to participate in the SBP or SMP before receiving grant funds. If you are interested in applying for the SBP or SMP, contact Gina Stahlecker by email at
  2. Is equipment purchased outside of the award period allowed?
    No. SFAs must purchase equipment within the grant award period. The grant award period is indicated on the SFA’s grant award notification.

  3. Can the extra savings from one approved equipment purchase be used to fund other equipment?
    SFAs must seek guidance and request approval to allocate funds to another piece of approved equipment by contacting the breakfast grant team by email at

  4. We have submitted our grant application and have determined that another type of equipment will serve our school needs better. Can we change our equipment?
    Please contact the breakfast grant team by email at to request approval to make any changes to your budget and proposed equipment purchases.
Questions:   Breakfast Grant Team | | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, January 3, 2024
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