Child and Adult Care Food Program - Action for Healthy Kids
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Child and Adult Care Food Program

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By the time children arrive at your after-school program, the lunch they ate at school is a distant memory. The good news is, your after-school program may be able to apply for funding for after-school snacks or suppers.

At-Risk Snacks and Meals

When school is out and parents are still at work, children need a safe place to be with their friends, with structured activities, and supportive adults. Providing snacks and meals is a great way to ensure that children are receiving enough nutrition to get through the afternoon and to support working families.

After-school programs that serve meals and snacks draw children and teenagers into constructive activities that are safe, fun, and filled with opportunities for learning. The food gives them the nutrition they need to learn and grow.

The school nutrition department, another public agency, the actual after-school program or an operator of multiple after-school programs can take on the responsibility for sponsoring CACFP. USDA provides reimbursement for meals and snacks served in after-school programs that:

  • Are located at sites where at least half of the children in the school attendance area or at a feeder school, are eligible for free and reduced price school meals.
  • Offer educational or enrichment activities.
  • Meet licensing, health, or safety codes that are required by state or local law.
  • Serve nutritionally balanced meals and snacks that meet USDA’s nutrition standards.

Reimbursable meals and snacks can be served to children, including teenagers age 18 or under at the start of the school year. There are no application forms for parents or guardians to fill out.

Take Action

  • The school nutrition department is the expert on nutrition programs (a contract is in place with the state child nutrition agency to provide federally funded food); they are professionals who understand how child nutrition programs work and they likely have the food, staff and capacity to produce the snacks (plus the storage space). So ask your food service manager or school nutrition director if applying for the program is a possibility. If he/she is unwilling to provide snacks, then work with allies to encourage him or her. Recruit those who have a positive working relationship with him or her to encourage sponsorship and support of the snack program such as school principals, cafeteria staff and school administrators.
    • It would help the school nutrition department to further support learning by supporting student health and wellness.
    • Remember, you can impact the snacks/suppers that are served. In every relationship, communication is the key to success. Start a dialogue with the program sponsor about the types of foods the children enjoy.
    • If you are working with another entity, like the school nutrition department, make suggestions on how you can work together. For example, should you develop a snack/supper planning committee with staff, students and families to discuss how the snack/supper program is running and possible substitutions for snacks that are unpopular with the students?
    • Get after-school program staff involved on your school’s health team.
    • Need support in getting equipment, like coolers? Work with the school nutrition department to raise funds or receive them as in-kind donations from local civic organizations, grocers or children’s health and hunger agencies.