From Alabama to Washington state and places in between, afterschool programs are embracing the USDA Child and Adult Care Feeding Program’s (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Meals program. This spring, hundreds of afterschool programs are providing nutritious meals at no cost to those children who need them most. With summer around the corner, providers are also taking part in the Summer Food Service Program to ensure young people have the nourishment they need when school is out. Here are a few examples from around the country:
- In Huntsville, Alabama, and the surrounding area, children will be able to receive three meals per weekday during the summer as part of Huntsville City Schools’ new Summer Feeding Program. Young people under the age of 18 will be able to enjoy up to three meals per day at no cost at 10 area schools through the Summer Food Service Program. Summer learning programs will be offered at most of the schools allowing students to nourish both minds and bodies.
- The Albuquerque Journal recently reported on a number of schools in Albuquerque, New Mexico, including Kirtland Elementary School, that started serving a meal as part of their afterschool program.
With the sequester now in effect, 3,400 AmeriCorps positions are expected to be cut. A recent story in the Baltimore Sun illustrates the concern that many afterschool providers have about the implications these cuts might have for their programs. At the Mother Seton Academy, a school for low-income children in Baltimore, AmeriCorps members serve in a number of vital roles, including helping out the afterschool program. As the school faces budget constraints and teachers are overworked, AmeriCorps members expand the capacity for schools and nonprofits to serve.
During a time of budget cuts, AmeriCorps members make all the difference in overcrowded classrooms, afterschool programs that keep kids safe or in tutoring programs that lower dropout rates. A recent blog post on Service Nation argues that the small living stipend offered to AmeriCorps members costs the country far less than the price of a teenager who drops out of school. With the wide range of services that AmeriCorps members offer, cuts to the program will undoubtedly have a large impact.
AmeriCorps currently engages more than 75,000 men and women at more than 15,000 locations including nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community- and faith-based groups across the country. During their year of service, AmeriCorps members help communities with a wide range of issues including disaster services, economic opportunity, education and healthy futures.
- The Safeway Foundation is partnering with Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland to develop community- and clinic-based programs designed to reduce the burden of childhood obesity. The program seeks to fund nonprofit organizations with innovative programs to address childhood obesity. The goals of the program are to empower innovative programs to expand and enhance services, increase capacity, and/or incorporate new strategies to support healthy body weights among children and/or adolescents; evaluate the impact of existing programs; and identify promising approaches that could be replicated, adapted, and implemented in diverse communities nationwide. Applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, or have a fiscal sponsor that is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The applicant does not have to be affiliated with a healthcare facility or clinic. Applicants must be based within 10 miles of a Safeway store (with some flexibility for regions with low-density stores). Proposed programs must use an inter-disciplinary model that includes at least one partnership with a community, clinic, business, and/or school. Initially, the Safeway Foundation is committing $2 million to support about 15 one-year awards. The amounts awarded may range from $3,000 to a maximum of $100,000 depending on the specific needs of the project. The majority of awards will be within the range of $40,000 to $75,000. The complete Request for Proposals and the online application form are available at the Safeway Foundation website. Applications are due May 15, 2013.
- Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) recently extended the deadline to May 3, 2013, for their School Grants for Healthy Kids for the 2013-2014 school year. Around 400 schools will be awarded funds that will range from $1,000 to $5,000 with significant in-kind contributions from AFHK in the form of people, programs, and school breakfast and physical activity expertise. AFHK will also provide schools with management expertise and support to develop strong alternative and universal breakfast or physical activity programs. Award amounts will be based on building enrollment, project type, potential impact, and a school's ability to mobilize parents and students around school wellness initiatives. Grants are available in select states. Note only schools are eligible to apply. The Physical Activity grants provide funding for facilities and equipment for recess, playgrounds/play-spaces, classroom energizers, physical education, intramural and/or before- and afterschool programs that introduce underserved youth populations to the value of an active lifestyle. Learn more through Action For Healthy Kids.
As summer learning program providers gear up for the summer months, now is the time to finalize arrangements for offering summer meals to participating children. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides at least one healthy meal at no cost to children who rely on free and reduced price school meals during the academic year. While the SFSP reaches many eligible children, the need is much greater. During summer 2011, only 1 in 7 children who were eligible for free or reduced price school lunches participated in the SFSP.
In an effort to better understand how summer learning providers feed participating children, please complete a short summer food survey, available here. The survey closes April 30, and findings will be made available this summer.
It's not too late to learn how to become a Summer Food Service Program sponsor or site.
In just a few short months, schools across the country will close their doors for summer break. Summer is a fun time for many kids who spend the hot, hazy days at summer camp, on a family vacation or exploring new interests in summer learning programs. For those children that rely on meals served through the federal school nutrition programs, however, summer is a time for hunger.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is the federal child nutrition program that provides at least one healthy meal at no cost to children who rely on free and reduced price school meals during the academic year. While the SFSP reaches many eligible children, the need is much greater. During summer 2011, only 1 in 7 children who were eligible for free or reduced price school lunches participated in SFSP.
Last week I participated in a special Twitter town hall that focused on increasing not only the number of children participating in SFSP, but also the number of sites that offer the program. There were many great questions asked and ideas shared by participants—including questions on how summer learning programs, schools and food banks can work together to ensure children have access to healthy summer meals.
Molly Newman is the Senior Project Manager for Healthy Kids Out of School, an initiative of ChildObesity180, working with some of the country’s leading out-of-school-time organizations to promote healthy habits through their HealthyKidsHub website.
Each of you works or volunteers in out-of-school-time programs for different reasons, but we all share the common goal of wanting to make a positive contribution to kids’ lives so they are equipped with the skills and confidence to become happy and productive adults. Out-of-school-time (OST) organizations can play a key role in promoting health and wellness programs that can impact not only the children, but leaders and families as well.
- Drink Right: Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Move More: Boost movement and physical activity in all programs.
- Snack Smart: Fuel up on fruits and vegetables.
How can the Healthy Kids Hub support you? Visit www.HealthyKidsHub.org and browse through resources on your own, or complete a brief survey to get resources tailored to your specific needs. You can also join other leaders from around the country in taking the pledge to adopt the three principles. Those who take the pledge by May 8, 2013, will be entered into a random drawing to win one of 100 $50 gift cards. Learn more at www.HealthyKidsHub.org.
This week, 20 youth finalist teams will meet at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, for the Conrad Foundation’s 2013 Innovation Summit. Teams will present their designs of a “global innovation product” developed for the Spirit of Innovation Challenge to a panel of scientists, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and government officials. Challenged to create commercially viable products to address issues of global sustainability, teams applied their STEM knowledge in innovative ways, developing products for one of four categories—Aerospace and Aviation; Cybertechnology and Security; Energy and Environment; and Health and Nutrition. These young entrepreneurs will undergo a tough evaluation on technical content and market viability from an expert panel, and the winning team in each category will receive a $10,000 grant to continue their product development.
I spoke with one of the teams, Chicks in Space, a subset of the Neighborhood After School Science Association (NASSA) from Ava, NY. MaryAnn, Lillith and Adia—ages 17, 14 and 12, respectively—are among the 5 teams competing in the Aerospace and Aviation category. Their product, the Garden of ETON (Extraterrestrial Organic Nutrition), provides a way for astronauts weary of dehydrated foods to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Through a series of experiments on plant growth in microgravity conditions, Chicks in Space developed a hydroponic gardening system that can be used in space! Their original submission video, below, follows the research and development process of the Garden of ETON.