The Umbrella Model is based on the USDA guidance that free afterschool meals can be offered and actively promoted to all children and teens, including student athletes, if enrichment programming is available to everyone. Under this model, meals are typically served in a central location within a school, like the cafeteria, such that everyone can participate regardless of where their activity takes place. While attendance records are required, schools do not need to track participation in activities, and children do not have to be enrolled in an afterschool program or even at the school. This model may also be expanded to community-based sponsors. For example, multiple afterschool programs could operate or begin in a central location, like a library or recreation center, with activities and meals available to all.
- Strong Results: The Umbrella Model was pilot tested in schools across the country, where it boosted participation by over 50 percent. You can read more in our report brief, CACFP Afterschool Meals Program Expansion with the Umbrella Model, and learn how you can implement it with our handout. In addition, this sample text can help with promoting the meal to students.
- How It Works: Based on pilot testing, the Umbrella Model is most effective when the meal is served in a high-traffic location immediately after the final bell, ideally with at least fifteen to twenty minutes for children to eat before activities begin or buses leave. Delivering meals to large activity groups, like the band or football team, can also help to make serving more efficient for the rest of the student body.
- Promoting Afterschool Activities: For schools that do not feel comfortable opening the meal to students who are not specifically participating in a supervised activity, we have found that schools can increase participation by better promoting the meal to activity leaders and coaches. The USDA guidance on athletic programs provides reassurance to open up the afterschool meal or snack to sports teams.
Schools can serve afterschool meals in each classroom in order to significantly increase participation and ensure that kids who need the nutrition get the chance to eat. Based on pilot testing, Supper in the Classroom shows the potential to reach 80 percent of all students and lead to more afterschool meals served than lunches.
- Supporting Guidance: Since USDA guidance confirms that students do not have to eat in a central location, like the cafeteria, it is permissible to serve meals in each classroom after the final bell. An educational or enrichment activity is still required, but this can also be conducted in the classroom during the meal service. For schools that operate for at least one hour longer than required, the USDA memo on expanded learning time programs allows them to build the meal or snack into the end of the existing school day.
- Implementation Resources: To learn more about the pilot tests and how you can implement this model, you can read our report brief, Increasing CACFP Afterschool Meals with Supper in the Classroom. For tips on implementation, see our handout, Supper in the Classroom Increases Access to CACFP Afterschool Meals.
- Success Stories: For real-world examples of how Supper in the Classroom can work in a school, read:
- Partnering for Supper in the Classroom Success: This case study about implementing this model in a North Carolina school district through a partnership with a non-profit sponsoring organization. The case study covers details like staffing, monitoring, working with principals and teachers, in-class activities, and more.
- Ending the Secrecy Around Afterschool Meals: This case study outlines the broader efforts to raise awareness of afterschool meals within San Antonio ISD as well as the implementation of Supper in the Classroom.
Working with athletics may seem completely natural, but there are some important considerations due to program rules. Our FAQs on Serving Afterschool Meals to Student Athletes, geared towards school nutrition professionals, walks through some of these potential issues. For those ready to move forward on working with coaches and athletic directors, use Fuel Your Athletes with Afterschool Meals to promote the benefits of partnering to serve afterschool meals to student athletes.
A November 2012 USDA memo provides numerous options that state agencies can use to streamline participation for school food authorities. These include minimizing required application information, eliminating additional training requirements, providing the option of using the NSLP meal pattern, combining procurement and contracts and streamlining monitoring.
Several resources are available to help program operators design inclusive summer meals programs:
- Let Your Community Shape Your Program: The discussion questions and stories presented here are meant to serve as a resource for schools and nonprofit organizations looking to more meaningfully engage kids and their families in program design and delivery. Consider soliciting input from families and those working closest to families as you continue to discuss these questions and stories with your full team.
- Conversation Starters for Designing More Inclusive School Meals Programs: These conversation starters can be used to guide conversations with school nutrition staff to a) identify barriers that students and their families may face in accessing school meals, and b) generate ideas for engaging students and families as partners in designing more equitable meals programs.
- Designing a More Inclusive School Meals Program (webinar recording): This interactive workshop features school nutrition staff and community partners who work together to create inclusive school meals programs, specifically assessing and removing barriers students may face in accessing meals programs. The speakers provide insight into actionable items that school nutrition departments may implement in their own communities.
- Designing a More Inclusive School Meals Program (webinar slides): Slides from the 4/7/21 workshop: Designing a More Inclusive School Meals Program
- Advancing Equity: Designing a Meals Program that Reaches Every Child: This resource features questions that can be used as a set of prompts to take step back and evaluate whether your meal program is designed to reach every child in your community. The questions are meant to be a starting place for ongoing conversations that we should all be having about how we can disrupt systemic racism as an anti-hunger community and design better meals programs that reach every child.
While some of these resources focus on school meals programs, many of the principles can be used for planning summer meals programs.
Want to learn more about equity in child nutrition programs? Check out this webpage for equity spotlights, resources, toolkits, and more.