The Effect of Providing Breakfast on Student Performance: Evidence From and In-Class Breakfast Program
In response to low take-up, many public schools have experimented with moving breakfast from the cafeteria to the classroom. The authors of this study examine whether such a program increases performance as measured by standardized test scores, grades, and attendance rates. They exploit quasi-random timing of program implementation that allows for a difference-in-differences identification strategy. Their main identification assumption is that schools where the program was introduced earlier would have evolved similarly to those where the program was introduced later. They find that in-class breakfast increases both math and reading achievement by about one-tenth of a standard deviation relative to providing breakfast in the cafeteria. Moreover, these effects are most pronounced for low performing, free-lunch eligible, Hispanic, and low BMI students. They also find some improvements in attendance for high achieving students but no impact on grades.
Imberman, S.A., & Kugler, A, D. (2012). The Effect of Providing Breakfast on Student Performance: Evidence From and In-Class Breakfast Program. National Bureau of Economic Research.