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Afterschool Meals

Afterschool meals are provided after the school day but during a supervised, educational activity. Afterschool meals are normally implemented through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) or the National School Lunch Program. CACFP is a federal program that allows schools and other local agencies to provide a meal to students after the school day ends. Afterschool meals can range from snacks to larger supper portions. Programs are eligible for CACFP if:

  • They participate in the National School Lunch Program
  • At least 50% of students in the attendance areas are eligible for free or reduced-price meals
  • Meals follow nutritional guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Students from households with low access to healthy food may go without food from lunch until school breakfast the next day, and afterschool meals help shorten the time between meals for these students. Additionally, these meals can help increase participation in school-sponsored activities. Providing nutritional meals and snacks can help students retain the information they learned during the school day. Afterschool meal programs can choose to serve meals every day or only a few days per week, depending on the program's budget and/or labor capacity.

Resources to Learn More

A Guide to Smart Snacks in School
Document
Highlights the importance of providing healthy snacks in schools and explains the USDA Smart Snacks in School standards.
Organization(s): US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services
Date: 7/2016

Three Meals a Day: A Win-Win-Win: A Guide to Starting and Improving Your Afterschool Meals Program
Document
Information, tips, and ideas based on interviews with ten school nutrition program directors.
Organization(s): School Nutrition Foundation, No Kid Hungry