It’s National CACFP Week! What’s CACFP? CACFP stands for Child and Adult Care Food Program. It’s a program that’s federally-funded by the United States Department of Agriculture to provide healthy meals and snacks to qualified programs. Here in a Delaware, it’s administered by the Delaware Department of Education. The Food Bank of Delaware plays an active role in the program by sponsoring 63 after-school meal programs. This week we are highlighting after-school programs up and down the state!
The Cathedral Choir School of Delaware offers music training, leadership development, language skills, academic support and mentoring for area youth.
During the school year, the organization provides musically-based after-school programming to kids ages seven to 17. In addition to after- school programming, youth also perform throughout the region.
Chantal Whitehead is the Director of Mentoring and Student Services and oversees the after school program.
After school programming is available Monday-Thursday and provides parents peace of mind knowing their kids are in a safe and enriching environment.
Committed volunteers help make the afternoons enjoyable for kids. Cooking demonstrations from local chefs, homework help, SAT preparation and more are offered.
The program is making an impact on students. Students who participate in the Cathedral Choir School have a 100 percent high school graduation rate. Students go on to colleges, universities, trade schools and military service.
Cathedral Choir School services mostly low-income to middle-income students. “There is lots of diversity in terms of demographics for income and ethnicity,” says Chantal. “It’s good for the kids, because they get to learn about others.”
In addition to transportation, kids also receive a free after school meal thanks to Cathedral’s partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware’s After-School Meal Program.
“The meals make a big difference, because what we find at the end of the day kids are of course hungry and we are asking them to come in, sit down, do more homework, have an activity and then they are rehearsing,” says Chantal. “That meal in the middle gives them a good break to regroup and recharge. It’s what fuels them for the rest of the afternoon.”
No food means grumpy kids, says Chantal. “If they come in and they are hungry, we know. We are happy to get the food in them so they are happy once they are here with us.”
Chantal and students are happy about the quality and nutritional value of food.
“When they get the meal they see that there is a dairy item, fruit or vegetable. They can understand what they should be eating,” she says.
Letting the Food Bank handle meal preparation and delivery also leaves one less thing for Chantal and the team to worry about.
“We know that we can count on the Food Bank to have that food here and have it be on time and tasty for the kids,” she says. “We really count on them, because it helps myself and our coordinator to not have to focus so much on the food because we know that it’s going to be taken care of and that lets us concentrate on activities for the kids and all of the other well-rounded things we want to have at the program.”
For sites considering hosting an after-school meal program, Chantal encourages others to participate. “Paper work is easy and not a burden. Talie [Regusme, Children’s Nutrition Program Coordinator] has been so helpful. She works well with us.”