March 21, 2019
School districts, teachers, and students across the country are beginning to prepare for spring break even though snow still blankets the ground in many states. While many students welcome the break from classes, for many others spring break also means a break from the nutritious school meals and afterschool suppers and snacks they rely on to remain engaged, active, and healthy.
Fortunately, the Afterschool Meal Program, which is available through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), can provide meals at educational and enrichment programming sites after school and during weekends, school breaks, and holidays throughout the school year.
There is no requirement that meal sites operate during the regular school week in order to serve meals during breaks, holidays, and weekends. With the option to serve breakfast, lunch, or dinner, meal sites can provide a maximum of one meal and one snack per child each day.
Afterschool Meal Program sponsors and advocates can work together now to ensure that children have access to the nutrition they need, even when school is not in session.
Specifically, sponsors can survey the programs they already work with to identify those that can remain open during spring break and receive approval to operate beyond the regular school week. Advocates can support sponsors’ efforts by identifying potential meal sites, conducting outreach to eligible programs, and helping ensure that families know they can access meals when classes are out.
Across the country, many sponsors and advocates are stepping up to fill the spring break hunger gap in their communities.
- Durham Public Schools: After recognizing that existing afterschool programs do not operate during spring break, Durham Public Schools identified two libraries where children gather when school is closed, and introduced activities and meals to those sites.
- Feeding the Gulf Coast: As a sponsor that supports areas in Florida and Alabama, this nonprofit gives all of their meal site supervisors a school calendar at the beginning of the school year. Sites are then able to choose when they want to serve meals, including during spring breaks. This process gives them time to prepare spring break meals and promote their availability.
- San Diego Parks and Recreation, the YMCA of San Diego County, and the San Diego Unified School District: Together, all three launched “Spring Fun Café” — a program at four recreation sites that allows students to drop in and receive a lunch and snack.
- Dallas Independent School District: The district serves a simplified menu of student favorites during spring breaks at schools selected by school leadership. The district promotes the program to parents and students through its communication
Learn more with FRAC’s fact sheet, How it Works: Serve Meals on Weekends, School Holidays, and School Breaks.