Afterschool providers across the country are stepping up to help youth and families access meals and food. We've heard from programs staffing or hosting grab-and-go meal sites, delivering food to families, and using new waivers  from the USDA to provide meals.

Horton’s Kids Delivering Meals

In this video, members of the Horton’s Kids team discuss how they made the pivot to distributing meals to families in need during school & program closures.

Thinking Creatively

To ensure families in need also got essential groceries, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta worked closely with existing partners, like the Arthur Blank Family Foundation to leverage all their resources.

Meals Distribution & YMCA of Metro Atlanta

When schools & programs closed the Y moved quickly to re-purpose its meals support to offer meal services and grocery pick up at several Y sites and schools, as well as meal delivery for seniors.

To learn more about how afterschool programs can work with community partners to provide meals, check out this webinar hosted by the Afterschool Alliance, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and other partners. Additionally, this FAQs document provides additional guidance on how to safely provide meals, as well as answers to specific questions on serving meals through the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Services has issued a number of waivers to assist afterschool programs and other sponsors in serving meals to students. Issues covered in these waivers include guidance on:

  • serving meals in non-congregate settings,
  • elimination of the activity requirement in afterschool programs,
  • allowances for parents and guardians to pick up meals and flexibility to distribute more than one day's worth of meals at a time, and
  • meal pattern flexibility

In Georgia, 62 percent of children qualify for free and reduced price lunch -- meals that the YMCA of Metro Atlanta knew kids would not receive with schools closed. The Y move quickly to re-purpose its meals support to offer meal services and grocery pick up at several Y sites and schools, as well as meal delivery for seniors. The Y worked with partners to adapt to the communities' needs:

USDA: Utilizing newly relaxed guidance from the government, the Y is serving as USDA a meals provider, the Y is offering snack and dinner at Y sites daily from 2-4pm.

Publix Super Markets: A long-time partner of the Y, Publix is now supporting the Y's effort to serve more than 5,000 children each week while schools are closed.

Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation: A supporter of the Y's Backpack Program, which provides groceries for families over the weekends, the program is continuing to distribute backpacks of food each week.

Atlanta Community Food Bank: The Food Bank has provided food, including non-perishables, fresh produce, milk, and meat, to include in weekly backpacks as well as pop-up food pantries at branches. The Y expects to expand this work and be a distribution site for our community members struggling with food insecurity. The Northeast Cobb Family YMCA, in Marietta, is a delivery site for the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Every Wednesday, the Food Bank delivers 10 pallets of food, and volunteers make 250 bags filled with food and distribute them to families in the Marietta School District.

Westside Future Fund: The Y is serving as a packing location to prepare food bags that will be delivered to 250 seniors in the 30314 zip code-Atlanta's Westside.

Paran North Church: The Cobb Ys — Northeast Cobb Family YMCA, McCleskey Family YMCA, and Northwest Cobb Family YMCA — are working with Mt. Paran North Church to provide much-needed food to low-income families living in nearby hotels and apartment complexes in Cobb County. While the church is providing food it collected as donations, the Y is organizing the packing and delivery of meals.

Atlanta Classical Academy: The Y is partnering with schools like the Atlanta Classical Academy to use their locations for meal delivery


The staff at the Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg, West Virginia, are continuing to provide essential support to children, families and communities across their city in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Executive Director Ben Shuman and his team of 10 began gathering food for distribution to students even before schools closed on March 16 and ensured uninterrupted meal service until the school district could begin their own meal plans. They're also partnering with the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and neighborhood grocery store to make sure families can get the food and hygiene supplies needed as they get caught between being furloughed and becoming eligible for food stamps and unemployment.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa has been hard at work to provide meals and virtual programming for local families, even in the face of COVID-19. They've partnered with the Food Bank of Iowa to deliver meals to families. As of mid-April, more than 500 food bags have been distributed to families in need. They're also providing innovative daily virtual programming for Club kids through their website and Facebook, including STEM, art and physical activities.