To learn more about how to do this, we turned to Crystal FitzSimons, Senior Policy Analyst at the Food Research and Action Center.
What funding is available if my afterschool program is in a low-income area?
An area is considered low-income if the local elementary, middle, or high school has at least 50 percent of its students qualified for free or reduced-price school meals. Afterschool programs in these areas receive 63 cents for each snack, which adds up to about $113 per child per year!
In low-income areas:
- School-sponsored afterschool programs can feed children through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). These programs do not have to be operated by the school and they don't have to take place on school grounds, but the school food service department, not the afterschool program, is responsible for operating NSLP. While this might sound complicated at first, it actually works quite well, especially since it almost eliminates the paperwork requirements for the afterschool program.
- Afterschool programs run by private nonprofit organizations, a local government agency, or a school can provide snacks through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
What funding is available if my program is not in a low-income area?
Afterschool programs that are not in a low-income area can still feed children, but the reimbursement is based upon the children's household income:
- School-sponsored afterschool programs can receive funds for snacks through the National School Lunch Program. The applications that school districts collect to qualify their students for free or reduced-price school meals will also qualify program participants for free or reduced-price snacks.
- Similarly, CACFP provides reimbursement based upon the child's household income, but only for children under age 13.
An afterschool snack is just not enough! Are there ways to provide something more substantial?
Right now, programs in low-income areas in Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania can apply to serve supper to school children age 19 and under. If you qualify, your program would receive $2.32 per supper. The supper can be served at any point during the afterschool program, even the start. Longer programs may be able to provide supper and a snack.
For programs in other states, or in areas that don't meet the income requirement, there are options. Afterschool programs run by a private nonprofit organization, a local government agency or a school can participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program to feed children under age 13 up two meals and a snack. Full participation in this option would allow a program operating before and after school to feed children a breakfast, a snack, and a supper!
School meal applications can be used to qualify children for free or reduced-price meals assuming the school is willing to share that information; otherwise, the program must collect its own income eligibility forms. This option is available regardless of the location of the afterschool program.
How do I participate in one of the programs?
To participate in National School Lunch Program (NSLP), contact your school district's school food service director.
To participate in Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), contact your state child nutrition agency.
The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) has many helpful resources for programs looking for help in providing snacks and more for participants. If your question wasn't answered here, don't worry! There's much more information in FRAC's Afterschool Resource Center.