The Afterschool Nutrition Programs provide federal funding to serve nutritious meals and snacks to children and teens at schools, community and recreation centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA’s and other sites that offer educational and enrichment activities after school, on weekends, and during school holidays.
Afterschool meals and snacks are available through the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the National School Lunch Program. These programs are administered at the federal level by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and in each state typically through the department of education, health, or agriculture. To find out the agency that administers the program in your state, check USDA’s list of state administering agencies.
- Funding for afterschool meals became available nationwide through the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, so there is much work to do to increase the number of children who participate.
- School-aged children have higher daily intake of fruits, vegetables, milk, and key nutrients like calcium, vitamin A, and folate on days they eat afterschool meals compared to days they do not.
- Offering afterschool meals can help draw children into educational and enrichment activities and programming after school.
- Benefits of the Afterschool Nutrition ProgramsThe Afterschool Nutrition Programs provide federal funding to serve nutritious meals and snacks to children at sites that offer educational and enrichment programming. These programs help support children’s health and academic achievement by providing nutritious meals and snacks that combat hunger and improve nutrition, and that draw children into afterschool educational and enrichment activities.
- How the Afterschool Nutrition Programs WorkThe Afterschool Nutrition Programs operate through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which allows schools, local government agencies, and private nonprofits to serve a meal and a snack to children after school, on weekends, and during school holidays. They also operate through the National School Lunch Program, which allows schools to provide a snack after school. Meals and snacks can be served to children up to age 18 (and 19 if their birthday is during the school year) at sites offering educational and enrichment activities, such as schools, recreation centers, YMCAs, and Boys and Girls Clubs. Extended-day schools that run for an additional hour or more also may be eligible. Sites generally qualify if they are located in a low-income area. Find out about reimbursement rates for meals and snacks.
- Serving High Quality Afterschool Meals and SnacksAll meals served through the Afterschool Meal Program must meet USDA nutritional guidelines, which were recently updated. The new nutrition standards go into effect in October 2017. Now is the time to move toward those new standards. Learn more about additional steps that can help build high quality afterschool nutrition programs and incorporating local foods into afterschool meal and snack programs.
- Strategies to Expand the Afterschool Nutrition ProgramsBuilding a stronger sustainable program, improved policies, and expanded partnerships with national, state, and local stakeholders are key strategies to increasing participation in the Afterschool Meal Program. Find out how to develop a more sustainable Afterschool Meal Program.
- Serving Afterschool Meals and Snacks in Rural CommunitiesThe Afterschool Nutrition Programs fill the hunger gap that exists after school for millions of low-income children in rural communities. These programs provide federal funding to afterschool programs operating in low-income areas to serve meals and snacks to children 18 and under after school, on weekends, and during school holidays. Learn more in our fact sheet: Rural Hunger in America: Afterschool Meals.