The federal Child and Adult Care Food Program provides nutritious afterschool snacks and suppers.
Recognizing that children need nutrition when the school day ends, many afterschool programs have long served a snack — often at their own expense. This program offers generous reimbursements for organizations to serve snacks and dinners to children who may otherwise go home to an empty table.
A growing number of New Jersey children are receiving snacks and suppers throuigh this program, contributing to their health and academic achievement, but thousands who could benefit from these meals remain unserved, according to a national report.
The Food Research & Action Center’s report, Afterschool Suppers: A Snapshot of Participation, found that the number of children receiving afterschool meals through two federal programs inched up 4 percent from October 2016 to October 2017, when nearly 61,000 children received a snack or meal on an average day.
Most of the growth occurred in the Child and Adult Care Food Program’s At-Risk Afterschool Supper and Snack Program, which was established through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, as part of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The program is open to organizations providing afterschool activities located in areas where at least 50 percent of students are eligible for free and low-cost meals.
Despite some progress, only a fraction of low-income New Jersey students are receiving afterschool meals, according to FRAC’s report. If New Jersey achieved the recommended 15 percent participation rate, the state would capture an additional $3 million more in federal funds each year to feed hungry children, according to FRAC’s calculations.
The New Jersey Food for Thought Campaign is working on helping communities increase access to this critical child nutrition.