Policymakers in developing countries can take a cue from the study as it suggests that breakfast programmes are an effective tool to help elementary school students from low-income families achieve more in school and be better prepared for later life.

Frisvold conducted his study by examining the academic performance of students in schools that are just below the threshold and thus not required to offer free breakfasts and those that are just over it and thus do offer them.

He found the schools that offered free breakfasts showed significantly better academic performance than schools that did not, and that the impact was cumulative.Math scores were about 25 percent higher at participating schools during a student's elementary school tenure than would be expected otherwise.Reading and science scores showed similar gains, Frisvold said.The findings are detailed in the Journal of Public Economics.

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