By feeding low-income children enrolled in afterschool programs, the Afterschool Meals Program helps to prevent hunger for children who may have eaten lunch hours before.
The Afterschool Meals Program feeds children that attend afterschool programs in low-income neighborhoods and may not receive adequate nutrition at home. The program also offers educational and enrichment activities, such as arts and crafts, literacy, and/or sports and fitness. The program is currently underutilized in Texas, and the potential unmet need is high.
Using federal funds, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) reimburses organizations that run afterschool programs for the number of meals and snacks served. In order to receive reimbursements, meals and snacks must meet nutrition standards that encourage a balance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins.
For low-income Texas families who benefit from school lunch and breakfast, the Afterschool Meals Program provides additional support and relieves financial burden, especially for working parents whose children might be in an enrichment program until late in the evening. The Afterschool Meals Program also provides financial support for schools and community centers that run afterschool programs, so they can provide healthier meals and additional programming.
Since this is a relatively new program, the TDA’S role in implementing the program in Texas is to continue to increase awareness of the program to school districts and other potential sponsors, help potential afterschool sites connect with sponsors who can manage administrative tasks, and provide training and technical assistance to help programs get started or increase capacity. The state can also simplify the application and administrative processes for organizations already experienced in operating other child nutrition programs.