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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Iowa Research Shows Low Participation in School Breakfast Programs

A survey conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, the UI Public Policy Center, and Team Nutrition program staff at the Iowa Department of Education, shows that participation in Iowa school breakfast programs remains low. The team led by College of Public Health associate research scientist, Dr. Natoshia Askelson, distributed the electronic survey through school district administrators and food service directors, asking more than 8,000 parents of school-aged children for input. Results indicate that only 17 percent of these families take advantage of school breakfast programs at least once per week.

School lunch survey infographic
[Info Graphic: Iowa Parent School Breakfast Survey]

The survey results also show that while most parents are aware that schools serve breakfast they are unsure of the details. For example, many do not know what breakfast costs and are unaware of the nutritional value of school breakfast. There is also a stigma associated with school-provided breakfast as many parents indicated that they viewed school breakfast as a marker of low-income status and believed it was intended for families who had difficulty affording food. According to the survey report, these misperceptions need to be addressed and reversed by placing an emphasis on the benefits of breakfast at school so participation is seen as a positive rather than a sign of laziness or poverty.

Although overall participation numbers in the breakfast programs remain low, the data from the parent survey will be used to better understand the reasons behind the low numbers, especially in comparison to school lunch participation, and will help inform ways in which the Iowa Department of Education can effectively work to increase participation throughout the state.

To read more, including a link to the full report: