Back-to-school season is approaching. Administrators, staff, and parents are working hard to ensure a successful school year for Texas students. A key to a thriving school year is providing opportunities for all students to get enough healthy food to learn and grow.
The Afterschool Meal Program, also known as the Child and Adult Care Food Program, allows high-poverty schools that participate in afterschool enrichment programs to serve full, nutritious meals to all students. This means students who do sports, arts or other activities after school can get a free meal in the early evening.
The Texas Department of Agriculture oversees the Afterschool Meal Program as part of the Child and Adult Care Food Program. This food program is beneficial to districts and schools because it is easy, flexible, cost-effective, and provides more work opportunities for food service employees. However, the greatest benefit of the program is that more kids are being fed nutritious, full dinners when they otherwise may not be.
The Afterschool Meal Program became available in every state in 2010, and national participation has grown from about 200,000 children in October 2011 to nearly 1.1 million in October 2016. However, there is still much room to grow in Texas.
While new data shows that the Afterschool Meal Program now reaches 215,000 students each day in Texas, this is only a small fraction of the kids who could benefit. Many districts have yet to explore how the program can enhance their afterschool programming.
Schools can sign up for the Afterschool Meal Program at any time. Find out if the Afterschool Meal Program was offered in your county, here.
Any school provider can qualify if they:
- Offer at least one enrichment activity open to all students (e. g. homework help, robotics, music, or sports);
- Are located in a school attendance area where at least 50 percent of children qualify for free or reduced lunch;
- Use the Community Eligibility Provision and the Identified Student Percentage (ISP) for that campus multiplied by 1.6 is at least 50 percent.
You can learn more if your school qualifies and how they can apply, here.
Communications Intern Jovahana Avila co-wrote this post.