It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over! During the month of July, I continued my travels around the country, discussing the importance of afterschool programs and focusing my presentations on increasing participation in the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program.
In mid-July, I headed to Denver, CO, to speak at the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) 66th
Annual National Conference. This is the largest national gathering of school nutrition professionals, aka lunch ladies and dudes. I went to speak about the importance of working with afterschool program providers and school district nutrition departments to help ensure kids have access to afterschool meals. Don’t know your district’s school nutrition director? Make it a point to know them
. Your district’s school nutrition staff can provide your afterschool program with meals and can assist in filling out the required paperwork.
At the end of July, I ventured down to New Orleans, LA, to speak at the Department of Education’s 21st
Century Community Learning Centers Summer Institute. New Orleans, a city with such a rich food history
(not to mention the Southern Food and Beverage Museum
), was the perfect place to discuss the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program. I led a panel of speakers that focused on nutrition and physical activity in afterschool programs. One of the speakers was a member of the Afterschool Alliance’s AmeriCorps VISTA project
, Meagan Erhart. Meagan has been working in Maine to increase participation in the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program. Here are some of her suggestions to successfully increase the number of students in your program:
- Visit the Department of Agriculture’s website for information about how to administer the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) also has very good information;
- Develop relationships with the local food bank, your school district’s nutrition department, Food Corps service members, local hunger advocates and other groups that work to increase access to food;
- Collaborate with groups—like AmeriCorps—that can help provide volunteers to launch the program; and
- Advertise your program once it’s up and running! Notify parents of the program as well as other community members. Invite them in to see your program and how it is providing kids with meals after school.
To learn more about the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, check out the Active Hours Afterschool
site. If you are currently serving afterschool meals, let us know how you are doing it! Please share your thoughts, tips and ideas in the comment box below.