After-school programs provide parents with a place to support the academic, social and emotional well-being of children. For many children, the meals and snacks served within this setting can be a great source of nutrition as well as opportunity for them to learn healthy eating habits. When paired with nutritious snacks, these after-school programs create a win-win that benefits a child’s cognitive abilities, physical development, school readiness and future eating habits.
After-school providers agree that meals and snacks attract children to out-of-school-time programs and help them stay active and engaged in activities while their parents are working. Providing healthy meals and snacks is particularly important given the rapidly increasing prevalence of child hunger. By providing healthy food, after-school programs can play a critical role in preventing hunger and improving overall child health.
Find out more about who can participate, program requirements and next steps by reading below.
What is the After-school Meal Program?
The At-Risk After-school Meal program reimburses for nutritious meals served in after-school enrichment programs. Funding is available through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to serve meals and snacks to children aged 18 and younger in low-income areas.
The meal component is a new program that was made available to Colorado through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The Act extends eligibility for at-risk afterschool meal reimbursement to all states participating in CACFP. Rather than just a snack, after-school programs can now serve a meal and a snack.
What is CACFP?
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal nutrition program that provides reimbursement for nutritious meals and snacks served to children enrolled in child care programs. In Colorado, CACFP is administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Reimbursement can be claimed for two meals and a snack or two snacks and a meal per child per day.
Who can participate?
Schools, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, for-profit organizations and local governments that are located in low-income communities are eligible to receive reimbursement for meals and snacks served to children. At-risk after-school care programs may participate as an independent after-school program or through a sponsor. In addition, a school that participates in “expanded learning time” may participate.
To participate, programs must:
- Provide care for children after school, on the weekend or holidays, or over school vacations during the regular school year;
- Provide organized, regularly-scheduled education or enrichment activities;
- Be located in an area where 50% or more of the children are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch; and
- Keep daily attendance records of program participants as well as keep menus, menu production records, and receipts for the purchase of food and supplies for all snacks and suppers that meet the nutrition requirements
- Record and report the total number of meals and snacks served each day
What kind of food must be served?
To be eligible for reimbursement, a meal must consist of five components: two different servings of fruits and/or vegetables, one serving of grains, one serving of a meat or meat alternative and one serving of milk. Snacks must consist of two different components.
Meals and snacks may be served hot or cold, and must meet local health and safety standards. A typical after-school meal is a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole wheat bread, baby carrots, an apple and a glass of milk. Snacks may be as simple as a piece of fruit and a cheese stick or crackers and a glass of milk.
How much reimbursement can a program receive?
Federal reimbursement is given for one meal and one snack every day that the program operates, up to seven days a week during the school year only.
Lunch/Supper = $3.0875 Snack = $0.78
An after-school program which serves 25 students has the potential to receive $17,403.75 by serving a meal and a snack every day of the school year!
What are my next steps?
To start receiving reimbursement for the meals and snacks you serve, please contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Child and Adult Care Food Program (CDPHE-CACFP). Call (303) 692-2330 to receive an application packet.
For more information, contact Victoria Treski, Child Nutrition Lead with Hunger Free Colorado, at (303) 228-7990.