Afterschool Snacks & Meals

The At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program provides nutritious meals and snacks in a safe, supervised location.  For many kids, this is their only chance to get a healthy meal after the school day ends.

The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 permanently authorized the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program as part of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).  Through the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides reimbursements for snacks and meals served by educational or enrichment programs in areas where at least 50 percent of students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. 

Many afterschool programs already feed students using their own funds because they recognize that children need healthy food to stay focused and active through the afternoon and into the evening.  By participating in the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, organizations can use the money saved for additional programming or staff, conducting outreach, or improving meal quality. Additionally, programs that have added meals report an increase in attendance and improvements in student behavior.

To increase access to the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, organizations at the state and local level are:

  • Increasing awareness through outreach campaigns
  • Increasing the number of meal sites through outreach to potential sites and by building partnerships with existing afterschool programs
  • Providing grants to facilitate program expansion and increase capacity
  • Providing technical assistance to help programs get started or expand their reach

Afterschool Snacks & Meals History and Trends
In the five years since the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program became a permanent and nationwide component of the CACFP, the number of suppers served annually has more than quadrupled. In Fiscal Year 2015, schools and other organizations served more than 390 million snacks and meals to children participating in afterschool activities. Despite this enormous growth, there is still a big gap: only one afterschool snack or meal is served for every ten school lunches going to kids in need across the country. In some states, implementation is so low that there are just one or two afterschool suppers served for every thousand subsidized lunches, suggesting a significant opportunity to reach more kids facing hunger. A new report from the Center for Best Practices examines the history and trends of this crucial program.