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School Breakfast Program: Mini-Grants

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is announcing the availability of $600,000 for the 2019-20 school year to be awarded to schools to implement or expand the use of an alternative breakfast program service method, such as grab-n-go breakfast, breakfast in the classroom, 2nd chance breakfast during study halls, etc.


  • March 12, 2019: Mini-Grants announced
  • April 15, 2019: Mini-Grant application due
  • May 15, 2019: Mini-Grant awards announced
  • August 2019: Grant payments distributed
  • June 30, 2020: Final report due


Each awarded school will increase and sustain breakfast participation by 20% over breakfast participation from October 2018.


Research shows that student behavior, mental health, academic success, physical health, attendance, and punctuality are improved when students start their day with a nutritious breakfast. Research also shows that students are more likely to participate in school breakfast when the meal is more accessible and convenient to the students, such as grab-n-go breakfast, breakfast in the classroom, 2nd chance breakfast during study halls, etc. These are referred to as alternative serving methods.

When breakfast is integrated as part of the school day throughout the building and easily accessible, students are more likely to participate. Traditional serving methods (student must go to cafeteria to receive/eat the breakfast meal) are often stigmatizing, segregating, and can deter broad range participation.


Only 51% of students that are receiving free or reduced lunches are also receiving breakfast. Pennsylvania ranks 39th in the country for the number of breakfast meals served compared to lunches. A large majority of schools offer the breakfast program, so the challenge is for schools to offer the program where it is more accessible to the students.

Grant Criteria

  1. Multiple schools within a Local Education Agency (LEA) may apply and be awarded a grant. A separate application is required for each school within a LEA applying for a grant.
  2. The school must currently participate in the National School Lunch Program to be eligible for the mini-grant.
  3. Awardees may not have any significant School Nutrition Program Audit or Administrative Review deficiencies.
  4. LEAs that currently have Excess Net Cash Resources, based on their most recent approved Child Nutrition Financial Report, will not be eligible for a grant award unless justification is provided in Question 10 on the grant application.
  5. Priority will be given to schools that have a free/reduced eligibility within 40%-100%, however, schools with free/reduced eligibility below 40% are not ineligible and may still apply. Geographic representation of the state will be considered in the award process.
  6. Breakfast must be available to all students in the building. The school may implement a variety of serving methods to cater to different age/grade groups. For example, breakfast in the classroom may be appropriate for students in grades K-2, while grab n go breakfast may be more suitable for students in grades 3-5.
  7. Awardees are expected to implement a sustainable alternative breakfast program service method that will increase breakfast participation by 20%, consistently. The October 2018 Building Data Report will be used to determine the baseline breakfast participation.
  8. Schools which were awarded a School Breakfast Program Mini-Grant for the 2018-19 School Year may apply for another grant for the 2019-20 school year, however, priority will be given to applicants that did not receive a School Breakfast Program Mini-Grant in the 2018-19 school year.

Grant Funds

1.    $1,500-$5,000 mini-grants will be awarded per school for purposes of implementing alternative breakfast program service method. Funds may be requested for:

    1. Purchasing equipment (kiosks, thermal bags, tablets/handhelds for mobile POS counts, additional garbage cans, etc.), staff training, short-term labor costs to support staffing for initial implementation and kick-off, kick-off/grand opening event including promotional materials to announce to parents/students, taste-testing new breakfast items, adult meals when a teacher/administrator/support staff join students for breakfast and model the importance of breakfast to start the day. All anticipated expenses using grant funds must be itemized on the application in the budget section.
    2. Labor for long term staffing is not an allowable cost for this grant since the goal is that the breakfast program will be sustainable after grant funds are expended.
    3. Up to 20% of the requested grant amount can be allocated to the principal as "learning connection" funds. Alternative meal serving methods can impact teachers, custodial staff, support staff, etc. "Learning connection" funds are specifically for the principal to use to educate these staff about the importance of school breakfast, the connection to academic performance, behavior, and attendance, as well as engage them and garner their support. The funds can be used to incentivize staff and students through promotional contests (give-a-ways, awards), teacher's challenges, etc. The funds can be used for classroom specific resources to help teachers that will help with implementation of alternative serving methods, such as reading materials or activities to be used during breakfast in the classroom, etc. These are not allowable costs to the Non-Profit Food Service Account; therefore, these funds must be accounted for separately.

2.    Grant funds will be issued in a single payment during the month of August 2019.

3.    Meals claimed for reimbursement must be documented per USDA regulations, regardless of the service method used. Schools may complete the Meal Counting and Claiming training on the School Nutrition Toolbox ( or contact the Division of Food and Nutrition to ensure the meal counting methodology satisfies USDA requirements. While increasing breakfast participation is important, program integrity cannot be compromised as a result of breakfast expansion.

4.    Grant funds cannot be requested for non-reimbursable breakfast food item expenses. For example, coffee/coffee drinks are not a reimbursable breakfast item, therefore funds may not be requested for a coffee machine.

5.    Grant funds cannot be used for the reimbursable School Breakfast Program meal since that is already reimbursed.

Final Report (1-2 pages)

Awarded schools will submit a final report summarizing the implementation method, accomplishments, lessons learned, challenges that had to be overcome, and how they will continue to sustain the breakfast program.


Contact Us

Jennifer Jarrett: or 717-783-2989
Jenny Edmondson: or 717-783-6552
Vonda Ramp: or 717-783-6556