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How afterschool can support school meals: 3 activities

By Guest Blogger

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, director of Community Partnerships at Alliance for a Healthier Generation.This article was original published on December 5, 2017 on the Healthy Out-of-School Time New & Notable blog.

Partnerships between school and afterschool educators are essential to ensure our community health efforts are sustained.

On November 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a new School Meal Flexibility Rule that will weaken nutrition standards aimed at reducing sodium and increasing whole grains for meals provided under the USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

Afterschool programs that voluntarily adopted the National AfterSchool Association Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity have the potential to be impacted by any weakening of school nutrition standards. In particular, if their school oversees the afterschool snack and meal program.

Below are three ways afterschool leaders can share their voice for healthy school meals while championing the power of afterschool.

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper

Shout your hard work creating healthy afterschool from the rooftop! Share the story of how your program is bringing the National AfterSchool Association Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity to life.

Writing and submitting a letter is simpler than you think! Check out Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor.

Submit a comment on the flexibility rule

As someone who works directly with children and families, you voice is important. Share your feedback and questions with the USDA by January 29, 2018 using the online comment form. Five minutes is all it takes to share your essential perspective!

Encourage families to go on a #CafeteriaDate

In addition to these three tips, encourage families to schedule a time to go on a “cafeteria date” with their child. Want to learn more about this campaign and why building a relationship with your school lunchroom is so important? Visit and share your experience by using the hashtag #cafeteriadate.



HEPA Success Story: DC SCORES

By Faith Savaiano

In 1994, a former school teacher in Washington, D.C., began an afterschool soccer program for 15 girls who had little to do after their school days. The teacher, Julie Kennedy, soon realized that the team relationships the girls built on the field translated well to other activities they could pursue during their afterschool time, such as slam poetry and community service. With that, the DC SCORES program was born, and now has been replicated in 12 cities across the United States and Canada.

DC SCORES afterschool programming implements a unique combination of competitive soccer, slam poetry, arts enrichment, and service learning on an alternating year-round schedule. According to the Chief Program Officer, Sean Hinkle, this holistic model combined with a focus on delivering a high-quality experience allows every student to define and achieve their own version of success through the program.

“The different ways that kids can connect with one another, trusted adult mentors, and with the bigger community really sets us apart [with] many different ways for kids to find success,” said Hinkle.



Support healthy OST programs with this action center's state policy toolkits & funding

By Tiereny Lloyd

Voices for Healthy Kids®, an initiative of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association, recently released an Out of School Time (OST) Campaign Toolkit. The toolkit is designed to empower OST advocates to take action in their communities and improve health of children in OST programs. Some features of the toolkit are new graphics, social media samples, fact sheets, messaging guides, and other resources. The toolkit can be downloaded here at no cost!

While you are downloading all the wonderful resources from the new toolkit, be sure to check out the open call for proposals to advance healthy eating and physical activity in your state.  This round of funding is specifically limited to proposals in the areas of the school health (physical activity/physical education, junk food marketing, wellness, ESSA, school food, and water), early care and education, and out-of-school-time policy levers. Applications must support the Voices for Healthy Kids OST Policy Lever: Pursue policy changes that require out-of-school time programs to integrate national healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA) standards into recognition programs, accreditation programs, certifications, and rating systems.

The deadline for submission is fast approaching; all applications must be submitted by December 8, 2017 at 5 p.m. PST. Visit the grant portal to learn more!

Last but not least, be sure to join the movement! As the only online national network of people focusing on helping kids grow up at a healthy weight, the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center (formerly is the place where leaders and organizations connect with hundreds of thousands of health and wellness supporters in advocacy efforts and policy implementation. The action center offers two pathways to membership; you can sign up as an individual leader or you can create an organization profile

If you have questions about any of the above resources, please be sure to give me a ping at, I look forward to hearing from you!



Advice from the experts on successful campaigning for HEPA

By Julie Keller

Last month, Voices for Healthy Kids brought together advocates of Early Childhood Education (ECE) to dive into the science, messaging, and best practice campaign approaches for advancing healthy eating, physical activity, and decreased screen time in ECE.

Here are a few snapshots of what was discussed and how out-of-school time (OST) advocates can take the next steps for advancing Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) state-level policy:

Leveraging the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP)

The US Department of Agriculture has updated the CACFP to ensure children and adults have access to healthy, balanced meals throughout the day. These revised meal patterns include a greater variety of vegetables and fruit, more whole grains, and less added sugar and saturated fat. The CACFP may be able to reimburse participating organizations up to $1,400 annually per child!

Next steps: Contact your state agency to check your organization’s eligibility for participation. If you are already participating, use this flyer to help promote and educate non-participating childcare centers about the benefits of CACFP.



Weekly Media Roundup: July 6, 2017

By Luci Manning

Young Inventors: Students Learn STEM Skills in Summer School Class (Logansport Pharos-Tribune, Indiana)

Sixty-five students from Lewis Cass and other area high schools are dismantling VCRs, building catapults and learning about how to grow vegetation on other planets as part of a STEM-focused summer program. The classes give kids a chance to create inventions using household items and increase their independence and creativity. “STEM is good for every kid,” program organizer Cindy LeDuc told the Pharos-Tribune.

Annual Summer Meals Program Kicks off in Philly (CBS Philly, Pennsylvania)

South Philadelphia’s Aquinas Center kicked off its annual Summer Meals program last week. “The city of Philadelphia is looking to provide activities and encourage active healthy lifestyles and educational opportunities as part of the fun, safe, Philly summer and out of school time initiatives,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. More than 1,000 free food centers throughout the city will offer summer meals to all kids under the age of 18, regardless of household income or other factors, according to CBS Philly.

Circuit Boards, Web Development and Summer Fun (Castle Rock News-Press, Colorado)

The University of Colorado South Denver has partnered with Coding with Kids to bring coding and STEM instruction to Denver students between the ages of 5 and 16 this summer. Kids learn everything from the basic concepts of coding to game development, robotics and web development. “Not only are these skills transferable in other aspects of their lives, but they also give these kids something to be passionate about,” Coding with Kids regional director Hardy Bora told the Castle Rock News-Press. “We want to share our passion for coding and lifelong learning with these kids. We want to teach them how to learn, not what to learn.”

New Albany Students Blend Classroom and Kitchen (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Mississippi)

A unique program at New Albany Middle School is blending math and cooking for about 30 students this summer. Kids in Integrating Math Through Cooking, part of the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, learned how fractions and proportions can be applied outside the classroom by analyzing recipes and multiplying portions four mornings a week this June. They also learned basic kitchen skills. “It’s amazing to see how much the children learned that they’ll use for the rest of their lives,” program director Maia Miller told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. “I can see we have some budding chefs in the making.”



Not The Onion: Horses, surfboards, and cyberattacks in afterschool

By Jodi Grant

Photo by Pete Markham

Despite a wealth of research showing the importance of afterschool and widespread popularity with parents, students, teachers and community leaders, programs have never been more threatened. This week the president decided to double down on his call to eliminate afterschool funding in his 2018 budget proposal, leaving 1.6 million kids’ with no where to go after school. It’s a serious matter with implications for Americans across the country.  The cut has caught the attention of major national media, local media across the country, and late night comedians and Saturday Night Live.  

The Afterschool Alliance isn’t exempt from the heightened publicity. On Monday, we had our first mention in The Onion, which wrote a satirical piece on the Secretary of Education’s new plan to replace 21st Century Community Learning Centers with afterschool polo programs across the country.

I was flattered to be mentioned, but as in all great satire, the piece contained a lot of truth. If the Secretary of Education did call me, I’d be thrilled to tell her about pretty amazing afterschool programs. I haven’t heard of afterschool polo yet, but given the creativity and ingenuity local communities across the nation have developed, I would not be surprised. Afterschool programs keep kids safe, boost student success, and help working families – and quite often, they also blow your mind.