Afterschool Meals

Free Afterschool Meals for Maryland Youth

The USDA At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program exists to offer nutritious meals and snacks for youth 18 and under at schools and community locations. The USDA provides reimbursements for snacks and meals served at afterschool programs offering enrichment under USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). For many kids, this is their only chance to get a healthy meal after the school day ends.   The program is available in locations where at least 50 percent of children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals.  Here is what some sites have to say regarding the benefits of the At– Risk Afterschool Meals Program:

        “After the final bell some kids have gone over 3 hours without eating and are expected to be able to remain focused on furthering their academic pursuits or dive straight into athletics. If you stop and think about it that's asking a lot from a child.”  - Principal McElhaney, Annapolis Middle School, Anne Arundel County

       “The afterschool meals program is something that kids can count on afterschool every day when food may not be available at home.  The children love the snacks and always want more!”  - Mrs. Myers, Director, Learn and Play Center of Baltimore County

      “Athletes are willing to give 100% effort during practice because they know that they have a nutritional meal prepared and waiting afterwards. When effort and production are up, practices are more effective and efficient and that leads to increased success. Breaking bread and having dinner together is a sacred and intimate occasion. Not only does it satisfy one of our basic needs, it facilitates an atmosphere conducive to building lifelong relationships. Our kids not only continue to learn interpersonal communication skills, they practice resolving conflict and do it all while face to face over dinner. This is a win/win program.”  - Darryl Hunter, PAL Resource Officer & Varsity Coach, Baltimore County


Many afterschool programs already feed students, using money from their own budgets, because they recognize that for many students, lunch is a distant memory and they may not get an adequate healthy dinner at home. By participating in the At-Risk Afterschool Meal Program, organizations can use the money saved for additional programming, staff and outreach or to provide healthier meals to students. Additionally, evidence suggests that by providing meals, programs realize an increase in attendance and improvements in student behavior.

For more information contact Kara Panowitz, Out Of School Time Manager for Share Our Strength at 410.205.1013 or

Myths and Facts about the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program

Myth: Only students in registered afterschool activities can receive meals.

              Fact: If afterschool activities are offered in a school or community site, any student can get a meal whether they participate in the activity or not. Some examples of activities include drama club, coach class, drop-in open library or computer lab hours, chess club, physical activity, etc.

Myth: Sites need a lot of equipment and time to serve afterschool meals.

              Fact: Afterschool meal sponsors ensure meals are ready to eat and supplies (plates, napkins, and utensils) are included. This makes set up, meal distribution and clean up a quick process. Many sites report it is much easier than they expected and that the energy and concentration students have as a result are well worth it!

Myth: Afterschool Meals require a lot of work and staff from the site every day.

              Fact: At a minimum you need one trained supervisor, aged 18 or older, on site to distribute meals and tally the number of meals served. The training is about food handling required by The USDA, and conducted by the sponsor that is serving the meal. Sites use various combinations of school staff and parent/student/community volunteers to work the afterschool meals program. Many sites use student helpers to assist in serving free meals, including offering service hours needed to graduate.

Myth: Students have to receive and eat meals in the room where the meals are given out.

             Fact: Students can receive and eat meals anywhere on site property. For example, if meals are served in the cafeteria at a school, the student can consume the meal anywhere on school property.

For a pdf of this info visit :

To view USDA info on Afterschool Meals, visit:

National News:

Afterschool Snacks & Meals History and Trends

In the five years since the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program became a permanent and nationwide component of the CACFP, the number of suppers served annually has more than quadrupled. In Fiscal Year 2015, schools and other organizations served more than 390 million snacks and meals to children participating in afterschool activities. Despite this enormous growth, there is still a big gap: in Maryland only 7.4% of kids who eat school lunch are also eating an afterschool snack. A new report from the No Kid Hungry's Center for Best Practices examines the history and trends of this crucial program.

To increase access to the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, organizations at the state and local level are:

  • Increasing awareness through outreach campaigns
  • Increasing the number of meal sites through outreach to potential sites and by building partnerships with existing afterschool programs
  • Providing grants to facilitate program expansion and increase capacity
  • Providing technical assistance to help programs get started or expand their reach

For more information on Afterschool Meals and No Kid Hungry at the national level, visit: