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Never Start the Day Hungry: Easy and Cheap Breakfasts for Kids

Cost doesn't have to be barrier to eating a healthy breakfast. Children from low-income families can qualify for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch in school through the federally-funded National School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program. More than 30 million children in the U.S. participate in the National School Lunch Program, and about 25 to 50 percent of those students also participate in the breakfast program, Dr. Kleinman said.

Although cafeteria food has a bad rap, it is becoming more healthy due to new nutrition guidelines from the USDA in 2010 calling for more fruits, vegetables, and fiber, and less salt and fat. School breakfasts now provide one-quarter of the recommended amounts of protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C for the day, according to the USDA. "School breakfasts aren't perfect, but they've improved greatly," Dr. Kleinman said.

Here's how qualification for the National School Breakfast Program works (figures are for a family of four and are applicable through June 30, 2011):

  • Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal through the School Breakfast Program.
  • Children from families with incomes of $28,665 or less are eligible for free meals.
  • Children from families with incomes up to $40,793 are eligible for reduced-price meals.
  • Children from families with higher incomes pay full price, though their meals are still subsidized to some extent.
Learn more about the National School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program, and call your child's school to see if the programs are offered.


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