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Effects of Time and Location for School Breakfast Participation

New research from an AAEA Member in AJAE

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, supplying daily nutrients such as protein, fiber, calcium, and carbohydrates. Research also suggests that it helps improve students’ performance at school. Universally free, served-in-classroom school breakfast programs have increased participation, but come with a hefty price tag that many school districts simply cannot afford.

In new research featured in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (AJAE), Klaus Moeltner from Virginia Tech, along with his co-authors, Karen Spears, Georgia Southern University and Ling Yu, Discover Financial Services, examine if extending the timing of breakfast service under a traditional cafeteria setting and pricing could help increase participation in the School Breakfast Program. In the article “Breakfast at School: A First Look at the Role of Time and Location for Participation and Nutritional Intake,” the authors tackle this question with a field experiment adding 10 minutes to existing cafeteria breakfast time, while controlling for arrival time to school, and scientifically measuring the exact caloric and nutritional intake for each child with a computerized food identification and weighing system.

Moeltner says, “for the three elementary schools we studied in the Reno/Sparks, NV, metropolitan area we find that the extra time plus the fixed location effect in the cafeteria increases average daily participation by approximately 20%, while the transition to classroom implementation adds another 35-45% for the typical student for a close to 100% overall participation rate. We also collect detailed data on nutritional intake, and find that, in total, neither treatment has a significant effect on consumption compared to the baseline (cafeteria as usual) for the typical participating student.”

“Breakfast at School: A first Look at the Role of Time and Location for Participations and Nutritional Intake” is open to the public and available to read online for a limited time. If you are interested in setting up an interview with Moeltner, please contact Allison Scheetz in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Scheetz
Senior Communications Manager
(414) 918-3190