The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers three different nutrition assistance programs that can help afterschool and summer learning providers offer nutritious meals or snacks to participating children:
- The Summer Food Service Program is a USDA administered program designed to fill the nutrition gap left during the summer months and make sure children can get the nutritious meals they need.
- At-Risk Afterschool Meal Program - Afterschool programs that participate in the CACFP Afterschool meal (or snack) program give children and teenagers the nutrition they need, and draw them into constructive activities that are safe, fun, and filled with opportunities for learning.
- The Afterschool Snack Program can be operated by school nutrition departments through the National School Lunch Program.
- The Finance Project. Financing Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs: Federal Funding Sources and Other Strategies (PDF). A guide to finding funding sources for childhood obesity prevention efforts.
- Food Research and Action Council (FRAC) Afterschool Resource Center. Information about federal child nutrition programs that provide funding for meals and snacks in afterschool, summer, and before school programs.
- The Center for Health & Health Care in Schools. A list of private foundation and corporate health-related grant opportunities.
- Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative. Jointly administered by the Departments of Education, Justice and Health and Human Services. Provides grants to promote healthy development through afterschool activities.
- The Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools at the Department of Education awards grants to school districts and community-based organizations to initiate, expand, or improve physical education programs, including afterschool programs, for K-12 students.
- National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Provides reimbursement to school-sponsored afterschool programs for snacks.
- Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Provides reimbursement for afterschool snacks and, in some cases, meals.
Serving Meals During COVID-19
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