More than a snack: After-school meals benefit hungry children

March 17, 2017

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!

Any parent knows that school-aged kids work up an appetite during the day; they are really hungry after school.

That’s where the Food Bank of Delaware’s Child and Ault Care Food Program (CACFP) responds to a big need: feeding hungry kids at the end of the school day.

In Georgetown, an after-school care site is set up at the Georgetown Elementary School on Market Street. Students from North Georgetown Elementary arrive by bus first, then the middle school students come to the cafeteria, and finally, students from Georgetown Elementary come in after dismissal.

On a recent day, Carlton, Tony, RJ, and Talayah, finished some homework as the meals were being unpacked from coolers provided by the Food Bank. These students were ready to dive into their salads, fruit, and beverages.

Not their favorite meal, but good anyway. These kids say they prefer sandwiches, particularly the roast beef and turkey. The salads, however, when topped with ranch dressing, seemed to be a hit.

“We just want to stay healthy,” said Talayah.

This site is managed by First State Community Action Agency; Wanda Hopkins is the site coordinator.

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by the Delaware Department of Education. It provides funding for after-school nutrition programs that combine educational and enrichment activities with an evening snack or dinner.

The Food Bank sponsors after-school programs run by community and nonprofit organizations.

Research, according to the USDA, shows that children who eat more nutritious meals are less likely to miss school, have fewer behavioral problems and perform better in school. For some CACFP participants, the meal received after school is the last nutritious meal received before returning to school the next day.

In the 2015-2016 school year, the Food Bank of Delaware produced 243,390 meals. All meals are prepared at the Food Bank’s Newark and Milford facilities using an industrial-sized kitchen, and the Food Bank’s drivers deliver meals to after-school program sites.

Community collaborations are central to the success of CACFP. Community after-school programs or daycare centers that are interested in becoming involved with CACFP can call  (302) 444-8128 or click here for more information.

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