How Afterschool Meals Reach Kids

Program Overview
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This resource traces the path of the funding that supports afterschool meals from Congress to kids' plates. It also answers common questions about how the program works.

Overview

Each year, millions of meals are served to kids after their school day ends, powering them through homework, tutoring, sports, and other afterschool activities. For too many children, that was their last healthy meal of the day.
The At-Risk Afterschool Meals component of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), also known as the Afterschool Meals Program, makes this possible. 

Congress created the CACFP in 1968, and the Afterschool Meals component was permanently authorized for nationwide expansion in 2010. Congress sets the funding levels and allocates federal dollars for the program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture implements and oversees the Afterschool Meals Program at the federal level, which includes setting nutrition standards for the meals, monitoring state agencies, and passing along federal funding to states.

In each state, the designated state agency runs the program, approving applications, providing training to participating organizations, and passing along funding for meals served to eligible children.

Sponsoring organizations are responsible for administering the program. They can be private non-profit organizations, school districts, or public agencies. 

Afterschool programs, sometimes called sites, are the locations where meals are served. They serve nutritious meals to eligible kids and teens while also providing educational or enrichment programming in a safe and supervised setting. 

 

By participating in the Afterschool Meals Program, afterschool programs in eligible areas are able to serve balanced meals and/or snacks at no separate charge to the kids and teens who come to their site. Afterschool program sites may receive meals from their sponsoring organization or from a caterer or vendor, or they may prepare the meals on-site. The federal funding offsets the cost of the food so that programs can save their operating budget for staffing, programming, and other costs while ensuring that kids get the nutrition they need.