Understanding Afterschool Snacks and Meals


Kids in afterschool settings can receive support from two child nutrition programs: the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Both are administered federally by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and both are run by the same agency in most states. There are two major differences between the NSLP and CACFP. The NSLP must be run by a school district or school food authority (SFA), and the SFA must serve lunches through the NSLP in order to receive support for afterschool programs. In contrast, the CACFP can be administered by public or private non-profit organizations and eligible for-profit child care providers in addition to SFAs. The second major difference is that the NSLP provides reimbursement for afterschool snacks only while the CACFP reimburses both afterschool snacks and meals.

There are major differences between the CACFP and NSLP with regard to who can sponsor the programs, when food can be served, and what can be served. However, there are also two sub-program options within each, and there are several similarities between CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals and the NSLP Area-Eligible Snacks.

This resource also includes a table comparing the requirements across all four sub-programs. 

Confused about the different options and rules for afterschool nutrition programs? Read this!