WASHINGTON, October 26, 2021 — Nearly 1.5 million low-income children benefited from suppers through the Afterschool Nutrition Programs on an average day in October 2020, according to a new report released today by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).
FRAC’s Afterschool Suppers: A Snapshot of Participation report finds schools and community sponsors were able to slightly increase access to afterschool suppers despite ongoing pandemic-related closures – reaching an additional 37,317 students with afterschool suppers compared to October 2019.
“Afterschool meal providers have done remarkable work over the past year under unprecedented circumstances. As the nation moves forward, afterschool suppers combined with afterschool programs offer an important opportunity to overcome the educational and health impacts of the pandemic on too many children, particularly children of color,” said Luis Guardia, president of FRAC.
During COVID-19, afterschool nutrition programs have had to pivot and adjust their meal service operations to provide the suppers and snacks that families rely on and find alternative ways to keep children fed safely, possible thanks to flexibilities provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the early months of the pandemic.
State participation in afterschool suppers varied significantly in October 2020, with four states reaching FRAC’s benchmark for states to serve supper to at least 15 children for every 100 who participated in the school-day free or reduced-price school lunch program compared to October 2019. The states that reached FRAC’s benchmark include: Maryland (40.2 to 100); California (36.4 to 100); Virginia (20.1 to 100); and Oregon (16.0 to 100). When states fail to meet this benchmark, they miss out on federal funding and children lose the opportunity to receive a nutritious meal.
For more states to reach FRAC’s benchmark, significant investments into afterschool programs must be made at the federal, state, and local levels. Additional funding will create more opportunities for enrichment programs to offset pandemic-related learning loss, while providing the platforms for afterschool suppers to combat hunger.
The American Rescue Plan showed a great commitment to afterschool programs by providing financial support for schools and community centers in order for them to continue providing quality programming and healthy meals. The Biden administration and Congress must continue investing in these crucial programs.
The Build Back Better Act provides that opportunity to support the education and health of children and their families. The package includes key provisions in child nutrition programs that must remain in place to strengthen the fight against child hunger.
“Afterschool programs that provide nutritious meals offer an important support as the nation recovers,” said Jodi Grant, executive director of the Afterschool Alliance. “Afterschool programs have provided a lifeline for many families and children throughout the pandemic, offering access to meals and more. That support must continue for our recovery. We need to keep the lights on after school.”
The Afterschool Alliance will celebrate afterschool programs on October 28 with its annual national Lights On Afterschool. Help shine a light on the impact afterschool programs are making – supporting students, families, and schools to meet the demand and challenges of the pandemic. Learn more.
About Food Research & Action Center
The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.
About Afterschool Alliance
The Afterschool Alliance is a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children and youth have access to quality afterschool programs. More information is available at www.afterschoolalliance.org.