Educators and school nutrition personnel in recent years have been discussing and debating the merits of serving breakfast in the classroom at the start of the school day, rather than in cafeterias. Participation is higher for breakfast in the classroom, leading to high hopes for increased impact on beneficial health and learning outcomes, while at the same time raising concerns about over-consumption for children whose in-class breakfast is their second meal of the morning.
New research in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management uses a "difference in difference" design before and after implementation in a large urban school district in the southwest, finding that breakfast in the classroom rather than the cafeteria has a positive effect on test scores. It is possible that the benefits are due to improved performance on the day of the test (perhaps because the kids were less hungry that morning) rather than longer term learning, but the favorable results are still notable.
This research, and related research, is discussed in a new video from ChildObesity180, an initiative led by Christina Economos and many colleagues here at the Friedman School at Tufts. This video, which briefly summarizes both sides of the debate before arguing in favor of breakfast in the classroom, is part of an extensive video series on school breakfast issues.