Breakfast FAQ’s

What is Rise & Shine Illinois?

Rise & Shine Illinois is a partnership of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, and several Illinois hunger-relief organizations. The campaign was developed in response to a recommendation of the Illinois Commission to End Hunger, a statewide body created by legislation in 2010 and appointed by the Governor. School breakfast is a key program in addressing child hunger.

Isn’t school breakfast mandated in Illinois?

Yes, breakfast is mandated for schools with over 40% free and reduced priced eligibility rates, and the majority of schools serve breakfast in Illinois, but far fewer children receive breakfast versus lunch. For example, only a fraction of students, 44 percent, who receive free and reduced lunch also receive breakfast.

Why aren’t breakfasts being served?

Traditional school breakfast is often served in isolation – well before the start of the school day and in a cafeteria or other space far from morning homerooms. Alternate models make breakfast convenient and available in areas other than the cafeteria, whether Grab N Go or Breakfast in the Classroom.

What are alternate breakfast models?

The three primary alternate models are Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab N Go and Second Chance Breakfast. For full details, please click here.

How can I bring alternate school breakfast models to my school?

The first step is to contact us by:

  • Filling out our online form
  • Sending us an email at
  • Or calling us at 773-247-3663

From there, we will take you through recommended steps related to you and your school.

You also may be interested in attending an upcoming breakfast summit. Or click here for information on applying for a grant.

What is the Community Eligibility Provision?

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 created a new option for schools in high-poverty areas to serve meals at no charge to all students without collecting meal applications, thereby expanding low-income students’ access to school meals and reducing schools’ administrative burdens. Known as the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), this option changes the reimbursement process from self-reported income to eligibility based on direct certification by state agencies, for example participation in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or Foster Care. This eliminates time consuming administrative task of distributing and recording household incomes for each individual student. CEP will become available for all states beginning with the 2014-2015 school year. In school districts that have adopted the option, more children eat breakfast and lunch every day.

What’s included in a school breakfast?

The USDA Breakfast Meal Pattern consists of:

  • 1/2 cup serving fruit/vegetable
  • 1/2 pint milk
  • 2 servings of meats/meat alternates OR
  • 2 servings of grains OR
  • A meat/meat alternate and a grain
What is the School Breakfast Program? Are schools mandated to participate in the School Breakfast Program?

The School Breakfast Program is a Federal entitlement program that provides States with cash assistance for non-profit breakfast programs in schools and residential child care institutions. It began as a pilot project in 1966, and was made permanent in 1975. It is administered by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Nutrition Programs Division. Participation is open to all public schools or non-profit private schools of high school grade or under as well as residential child care institutions.

The Childhood Hunger Relief Act (Public Act 096-0158) mandates all public schools in which at least 40 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches to provide a breakfast meal. For additional information on this mandate, as well as the provision to opt-out, go to

What financial incentives are provided to assist schools in starting and maintaining the School Breakfast Program?

FEDERAL REIMBURSEMENT: Participating schools and institutions receive federal cash assistance* for each breakfast served that meets program requirements. A higher rate of reimbursement, also called Severe Need Reimbursement, is available to those schools in which 40% of the students were free or reduced-price in the second preceding school year. A new school that did not operate for the previous two years and would therefore not have claimed, may still be eligible and should contact ISBE Nutrition Programs Division for further guidance.

STATE REIMBURSEMENT: Through the Illinois Free Lunch and Breakfast Program, each free breakfast served is eligible for state reimbursement*. Actual reimbursement rate depends on total allotted funds and amount of statewide participation.

STUDENT PAYMENTS: Schools may charge no more than $0.30 for a reduced-price breakfast. Schools will set their own prices for breakfasts served to students who pay the full meal price (paid), though they must operate their meal services as non-profit programs.

School food authorities (SFA) submit a monthly claim for reimbursement to ISBE through IWAS/ACES for meals served. No application is required for the severe need reimbursement; the data will automatically be pulled from your claims. Reimbursement is paid on a monthly basis.

* For a current listing of reimbursement rates, go to and click on School Breakfast Program.

Does the breakfast have to be served hot and in a traditional setting (cafeteria)?

No, there are alternative routes to serving breakfast, such as breakfast in the classroom, grab ‘n go breakfast, and breakfast after first period. To determine which service style will work best for your school, visit

What are the meal nutrition requirements for breakfasts offered through the School Breakfast Program? What should I serve for school breakfast?

The Breakfast Food-Based Meal Pattern minimum requirements are three items from three component group. The component groups are as follows: 1) milk as a beverage or on cereal or used in part for each purpose, 2) a serving of fruit or vegetable or both or full-strength fruit or vegetable juice (2013-14 there are no juice restrictions but starting 2014-15 juice may only be offered as half of the fruit or vegetable servings weekly, and 3) one servings of grain, half of all grains served must be whole grain rich. (Effective July 1, 2014 all grains must be whole grain rich) Breakfast Food-Based Meal Pattern considers calorie minimums and maximums for grade groupings (K-5, 6-8, K-8, 9-12 or K-12).

Additional Items: Meat/meat alternate may be served as an “additional” item and be credited as a second serving of grain or just served as an added item after the requirements are met. Calories from additional foods must be included in the overall calories for the weekly average. Offer verses Serve:requires four items must be offered from the three component groups and students may decline any one item. ( For additional menu planning resources and offer verses serve information click here.

What are the sponsor’s responsibilities for administering the program?

Administrative responsibilities for the program include:

  • Maintain financial records to ensure non-profit status
  • Provide applications for meal benefits to each household
  • Approve and/or deny applications for meal benefits
  • Verify current income from a sample of households selected
  • Ensure menus adhere to all applicable menu requirements
  • Take meal counts at the point of service
  • Submit claims for reimbursement
  • Competitively bid for purchased food, supplies, equipment, and services as applicable

An annual application must be submitted each year in order to apply for funding. Applications are for the federal fiscal year, October 1 through September 30.

How can I apply to become a sponsor?

If you are currently a sponsor of any federal or state school-based nutrition program, simply access your site application in ACES and click on School Breakfast Program or IL Free Breakfast. If you are not currently a sponsor of any federal or state school-based child nutrition program, you must apply using the forms here. New applications may be submitted at any time. Applications are valid from the date of approval through September 30 each year.

Are there any additional application requirements?

FOR PRIVATE NON-PROFIT SCHOOLS—In addition to the above forms, private non-profit schools must be registered as a school by the Illinois State Board of Education and submit a copy of the tax exempt letter showing status under section 501(C)(3) of the Federal Internal Revenue Code.

FOR PRIVATE RESIDENTIAL CHILD CARE INSTITUTIONS—Private residential child care institutions must submit a license or a document indicating a license is not required. A copy of the tax exempt letter showing status under section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code can serve as documentation.

Who can I contact if I need assistance?

Contact the ISBE Nutrition Programs Division by phone at 800/545-7892 or email at