Afterschool Meal Programs Benefit More Than Just Students

Apples at school

Afterschool Nutrition Programs help fill the hunger gap for millions of low-income students across the country. When districts implement an afterschool nutrition program (ANP), students who are eligible are able to receive a snack or meal on a weeknight, weekend, and school holiday when they otherwise may not have.

In 2017, more than 46,000 districts participated in ANP’s, including the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) (23,605) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) (22,985). When combining all program participants in 2017, there were over 1.07 million children who received a meal or snack outside of weekday school hours.

When the Afterschool Alliance conducted a study, 8 of 10 parents said that afterschool programs help them keep their jobs by not having to request time off or leave during the day. While these programs benefit many, respondents also mentioned that there are not enough afterschool programs available/accessible to low-income families. An important reason the FRAC strives for states to provide supper to at least 15 of every 100 students who qualify.

In 2017, seven states lost out on more than $55.4 million in federal reimbursements and underserved thousands of children. If every state were to participate in an ANP with 15 of every 100 low-income students, nearly 2.1 million additional students would benefit. The funding that would have come from serving these students would have yielded roughly $131 million for districts.

One district in California, Redlands Unified School District, started out serving snacks through the NSLP and with high participation numbers, quickly began serving suppers too. With a few simple changes to one of their lunch lines, they were able to begin serving meals branded as “super snacks”.

If a school implements an afterschool meal program for 50 children, five nights a week during the school year, the school could receive more than $28,980 in federal funding for its nutrition program. If the school were to also begin serving snacks, their nutrition program could receive an additional $7,380. This additional funding can go a long way for many nutrition programs that are already struggling.

Afterschool meals provide opportunities for less-fortunate students to receive proper nutrition while boosting a cafeteria’s budget. Considering the average school year runs 36 weeks, and there are more than 85 days of missed meals due to holidays and weekends, many students desperately need these meal programs.

All states are eligible to provide afterschool meals and snacks, and states who don’t are losing out on thousands of dollars worth of funding. It’s important to discuss with your student’s school to see if these opportunities are available. Just because your family may not need this type of assistance doesn’t mean that another doesn’t.

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