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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
February 10, 2020

Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, Chief Business Officials, and Food Service Directors:

Promoting National School Breakfast Week: March 2–6, 2020

As a way to increase students’ access to the School Breakfast Program (SBP), the California Department of Education (CDE) is encouraging schools in California to participate in National School Breakfast Week, March 2–6, 2020.

During this week, I urge each school to choose a new and innovative method of providing breakfast to your students in one or more of your schools with the goal of increasing access and enhancing meal participation. For one week, I encourage your school to implement Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab and Go Breakfast, or Second Chance Breakfast.

Breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day, and California's SBP ensures that no child starts the school day hungry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that as of 2018, 19 percent—or 1.7 million—of California’s children live in food insecure households. As school leaders, we can help change this unacceptable statistic.

Approximately 3 million students in California participate in the National School Lunch Program; however, only about 1.6 million students in California participate in the SBP. We can do better to help ensure more students are participating in our SBP.

The SBP is open to all enrolled children. If a child already qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches, then the child also qualifies for free or reduced-price breakfasts. School breakfasts can include a balance of proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and milk.

Promoting school breakfast fits well with my 2019 priority initiatives, and research confirms the clear connection between health, learning, and attendance:

  • Healthy, well-nourished students miss fewer school days. Eating school breakfast increases student attendance by an average of 1.5 days of school per year, which equates to 3 million fewer absences per year and millions of dollars of additional district funding (School Breakfast: Reducing Chronic Absenteeism and Supporting Student Success. California Food Policy Advocates, September 2017).
  • Healthy, well-nourished students learn better. Research shows a strong connection between healthy eating and academic achievement, with increased grades, test scores, and improved cognitive performance (Health and Academic Achievement. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).

Lastly, each year the CDE offers up to $15,000 per school for those who want to start a new or expand an existing SBP. For more information, please visit the CDE School Breakfast and Summer Meal Grants web page at

By taking advantage of the available resources and grant opportunities, you can help to ensure that students have access to a healthy breakfast every school day.

Please visit the following links for more information:

National School Breakfast Week
Breakfast in the Classroom
Grab and Go Breakfast
Second Chance Breakfast
Information about all three methods:

For questions on promoting National School Breakfast Week, please contact Michael Danzik, Nutrition Education Consultant, by phone at 916-445-7346 or by email at


Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction


Last Reviewed: Tuesday, February 11, 2020

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