Afterschool Meal Program
How can an Afterschool Program receive free Meals and Snacks?
Funding is available to Afterschool Programs located in public schools, child care centers, libraries, YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, churches, community or recreation centers—pretty much anywhere that kids go afterschool that have organized activities. These programs can be for-profit or non-profit.
The first step is to determine if your Afterschool Site is area-eligible. Area-Eligible Afterschool Programs may receive USDA funding for afterschool meals and snacks—or have them delivered free of charge.
How do you determine if your location is area-eligible? It’s based on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) statistics at your site’s local Elementary, Middle, or High School. If the school’s percentage of Free and Reduced children is at least 50%, then the site is area eligible. Child Care Resources can determine your site’s area-eligibility for you (For more information on determining this, see below*).
Once you determine if your site is area-eligible, you must decide whether you want to make your own food (self-prep) or have the food delivered to you. If you make your own meals, you’ll receive funding—about $3.31 and/or $0.86 per snack for the 2016 school year, which runs July through June. So if you serve 60 kids an afterschool meal and snack, you’ll receive $250.20 for that day (or about $5,254.20 per month). If you decide to have the food catered, you won’t receive funding—you’ll receive the food instead. So you won’t have to worry about developing menus, meeting USDA nutritional guidelines, buying or preparing the food.
What do you have to do?
Participating in the At-risk Afterschool Meal Program is almost a no-brainer for most afterschool programs. After all, who doesn’t want funds to provide meals and snacks to your afterschool kids? But in order to get that money and food, you do have to do some work.
You can participate in this program by signing an agreement directly with the State. This makes you an independent center. The nice thing about this arrangement is that you get to keep 100% of the funding. But there are also some key responsibilities. You are legally responsible for following every CACFP rule – no matter what – so that means you must have someone on staff that know all those Food Program rules, and is an expert at handling paperwork. The state agency will come out and audit your program once every three years (and sometimes more often), and if they find you’ve made any mistakes, they will demand that you repay a portion of the funds you’ve received from the Food Program over the years. This could amount to tens of thousands of dollars, and is unfortunately not as rare as it should be. And if the state agency views the mistake as serious, they can take steps to bar your program from receiving other federal funds.
Alternatively, you can participate in the CACFP by signing up with Child Care Resources. As a USDA Sponsoring Organization, we will assume your Food Program liability, so you don’t have to worry about paying funds back, or about other liability introduced by paperwork mistakes. Our unique Pre-Claim Review process, helps to ensure your federal claim is accurate and that you receive the maximum reimbursement you are entitled to. We keep all of your records electronically organized and archived. We also visit your site relatively frequently, both to help train your staff, and to make sure you’re following the proper procedures. In exchange, we retain 15% of funds for administering the CACFP for you. And if we prepare and deliver food for you, we retain 100% of the funding.
Regardless whether you sign up independently or participate through Child Care Resources, you must keep daily attendance records and counts of children served at individual meals, must keep detailed records of food served that meets USDA Child & Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) guidelines. Child Care Resources makes this much easier by providing an easy software interface to ensure all records are kept properly, archived, and submits that to the State via Child Care Resources electronically.
How do you get started?
First, you must decide whether you’re going to participate independently or with a sponsor. If you do choose to go with a sponsor,Child Care Resources will train you on all the details of the Food program, including all the details of what foods to serve, how to do your paperwork, and more. Second, you must decide whether you want to make your own food or have someone else, like Child Care Resources, deliver the food to you ready to eat. We will walk you through the State application process and have fast-track approval. Once your Afterschool Program is up and running on the program, we are there to check your paperwork, provide on-going training and support, and help ensure your center receives nutritious meals for the kids in your afterschool program. To get started, fill out the on-line application here.