Baltimore’s Student Breakfast Program

February 1998 / Abell Reports / Education, Health and Human Services

Data from Abell Foundation project concludes: changes in student breakfast program will increase participation, improve performance.

At approximately 8:00 on a chill, bright Monday morning in November, some 600 children file into Montebello Elementary at Harford Road and 32nd Street in Northeast Baltimore. They are coming to school, routinely, to attend another day in the semester—but first there is the matter of breakfast. By 8:20 a. m. the 600 children are in their respective classrooms and, in an obviously cheerful mood, sit down at their desks to juice, a bagel (sometimes hot pancakes) and milk—and it’s all free, compliments of the federal government, the State of Maryland, and The Abell Foundation. While these students are part of a cheery, chatty, fun-filled eating club, they are also part of a serious experiment. It is one designed, first, to influence all students in the Baltimore City Public Schools who ordinarily would not eat breakfast at home to eat breakfast in school; and, second, to evaluate the effect of breakfast on attendance, tardiness, behavior, social skills, and academic performance.