This month we re-launched our effort to promote the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program offered through the Department of Agriculture. Millions of young people that participate in afterschool programs every afternoon go home to food insecure households. The Afterschool Meals Program provides an opportunity to offer a nutritious, balanced meal to children to help them focus during the afterschool hours. Afterschool meals often sustain children until breakfast at school the next morning.
Since 2011, the Afterschool Meals Program has proven to be an effective way to reduce childhood hunger and promote a healthy childhood weight. In 2012, 16 million children (22 percent) under the age of 18 lived in poverty and were exposed to hunger.
If your afterschool program currently doesn't offer afterschool meals and you would like to learn more, click here to become an Afterschool Meals Champion. We look forward to connecting you with resources and tools to help you become an afterschool meals site or sponsor!
By Sarah Keller
It's been 10 days since the government shutdown began, and with Congress still deadlocked over a Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2014, afterschool programs around the country are starting to feel the effect. From the National Park Service to USDA nutrition programs and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), local media have uncovered how the shutdown of a diverse set of federal programs is negatively impacting children served by community afterschool programs:
- Aviator Sports and Events Center, located inside Gateway National Recreation Area, a National Park Service area in Brooklyn, has been deemed non-essential and thus closed since the shutdown began. This has caused the families of the 35 children attending the program rushing to find alternative arrangements.
- AmeriCorps VISTA members, who work at nonprofits aimed at reducing poverty while living on a poverty-level salary for a year, receive their salary in part through the CNCS—unavailable while the shutdown continues. The local CBS affiliate in northern Nevada reports how the Reno Bike Project afterschool program’s VISTA is affected by the shutdown.
Jillien Meier is a Program Manager with the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices at Share Our Strength and oversees the Center’s work on afterschool meals, WIC and health care. Additionally, she supports No Kid Hungry Partnerships in Colorado, Connecticut, and New York City.
According to a recent survey of low-income parents, 81 percent report interest in having their children involved in fun, recreational, creative, or physical activities after school. Even better, interest in afterschool programming increases with the addition of free, healthy food.
I enjoy every opportunity I have to listen and learn firsthand about issues related to the afterschool field, and last week was no exception. I was excited to be able to attend Washington Post Live’s 2013 Childhood Obesity Summit, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and hear directly from policy makers, experts and advocates about childhood obesity—an issue very much of concern to afterschool. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of RWJF, kicked off the event emphasizing the recent progress we’ve made as a nation in regard to turning a corner on childhood obesity rates as rates decrease in cities across the country. Yet despite this progress—which was made possible through a variety of actions and actors, including afterschool programs—there’s still much more work to be done.
In my opinion, her most significant point was that right now, we understand better than ever before what works and what doesn’t to fight the childhood obesity epidemic. Dr. Janet Collins, associate director for program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reinforced this point during her panel discussion, referring to childhood obesity as one of our “winnable battles.”
By Jodi Grant
Last week I had the honor of attending a Let’s Move! Active Schools event with First Lady Michelle Obama at Orr Elementary School in southeast Washington, D.C. The event highlighted D.C. Public Schools’ (DCPS) new commitment to engaging all of its students in at least five hours per week of physical activity—including during the hours before and after school.
It’s always a privilege to be in the presence of the First Lady, but I was especially pleased to hear her passion for keeping our children healthy—something the afterschool community does every day by providing opportunities for physical activity and nutrition to students across the country.
The First Lady, NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson gave remarks on the key role educators and schools play in encouraging children to engage in healthy habits and physical activity. In her remarks, Chancellor Henderson lauded local afterschool programs—particularly DC SCORES—for the key contributions they make toward teaching students healthy habits and preparing them for success both in and out of school.
September is No Kid Hungry Month, and Share Our Strength is hosting their annual Go Orange for No Kid Hungry essay contest to raise awareness of childhood hunger. Participating students are asked to write a letter to their local or national leaders explaining why ending childhood hunger matters and asking them to take action. If your students participate in the At-Risk Afterschool Meals program, consider using this contest as an opportunity for them to write letters to their legislators about why these programs are so important to them.
The contest is open to students in grades 9 through 12. All entries are due by Sept. 27. The winner will receive both a $500 scholarship and a $500 donation to the child hunger nonprofit of his or her choice. The school receiving the first place award will win $1,000 to use toward classroom expenses.
There are many ways your afterschool program can join the movement to end childhood hunger, particularly as we gear up for Lights On Afterschool:
- On Sept. 24, wear orange to show your support for Go Orange for No Kid Hungry Day.
- Showcase your afterschool program’s snack or meals program as a part of your Lights On Afterschool event.
- Invite local policy makers and community leaders to observe your program in action as part of an open house or other Lights On Afterschool event.
- Keep reading the Afterschool Snack in the coming weeks for more ideas on incorporating childhood hunger awareness activities into your Lights On Afterschool event from our partners at Share Our Strength.
To learn more about the USDA’s At-Risk Afterschool Meals program, visit our Active Hours Afterschool page.