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Run Meal Programs Year-Round
three elementary students eating a meal at a cafeteria table

Operating both summer and afterschool meals programs yields numerous benefits for sponsors and sites as well as children and families.

Sponsors have a year-round stream of funding, which makes it easier to meet financial obligations and allows for hiring and retaining qualified full-time staff. Using the same resources and facilities year-round also extends their use and spreads their cost. It also allows for a year-round relationship with sites that provide programming throughout the year, which promotes site retention. For sites, the year-round support allows them to continue providing a valuable service to children and families, which builds trust and sustained participation. The children and families always know where they can go for meals.

Operating both programs has been done successfully by many sponsors, but it does require a sound understanding of each in order to help sites navigate the differences. Developing operating procedures with both programs in mind can help to better maintain year-round consistency and enhance site compliance. Some sponsors like to take advantage of the greater flexibilities in summer meals, so site training and tailored messages at the right times of the year can help sites to successfully transition between the programs.

The Afterschool Meals and Summer Meals Comparison Chart highlights key differences and similarities in the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program and the Summer Food Service Program.