Afterschool Meals

The At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program

The At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program helps children get the nutritious meals they need in a safe, supervised location. For many children, this is their only opportunity to access a healthy meal after the school day ends. Through the At-Risk Afterschool Meal program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides reimbursements for snacks and meals served at afterschool programs offering enrichment or education programs under USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The program is available in locations where at least 50 percent of children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. Afterschool care programs that are currently participating in afterschool snack programs can participate in the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Supper program. 

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.

If you or someone you know is interested in connecting kids with free meals after the school day ends, please click here to see the required criteria.

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

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 Center for Best Practices examines the history and trends of this crucial program.