With support from the Walmart Foundation, we are working with the Food Research and Action Center to help cities reduce child hunger and supplement current funding for afterschool and summer programs.
Afterschool Meals: In an effort to combat childhood hunger that has sky rocketed in the US over the past several years, Congress recently improved the federal child nutrition programs to make it easier for programs to serve meals to children after school, on weekends, and during school holidays in addition to or instead of just a snack. The federally-subsidized meals and snacks attract children to out-of-school-time programs, where they can be active, engaged and safe while their parents are at work. The food also helps keep hunger at bay so children can fully participate in the activities going on at the program.
Summer Meals: When school lets out, millions of low-income children lose access to the school breakfasts, lunches and afterschool snacks they receive during the regular school year. The summer food programs are there to fill this gap. Many summer food sites provide educational enrichment and recreational activities along with meals and snacks, helping children continue to learn and stay safe when school is not in session. The meals provided through summer nutrition programs act as a magnet to draw children to these activities.
How Can Elected Officials Help? Mayors and other city officials are in a unique position to help public and nonprofit afterschool providers take advantage of this opportunity. In recent years, municipal officials have provided invaluable leadership to the creation of citywide systems of afterschool programming as well as local outreach campaigns to expand awareness of and access to vital federal nutrition programs. Cities can also serve as a sponsor of the Afterschool and Summer Meals Programs on behalf of multiple providers and to ensure that meals can be served in Parks and Recreation facilities and programs.
NLC is coordinating the CHAMP initiative in partnership with the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) with support from the Walmart Foundation. The project will draw upon the YEF Institute's deep experience supporting city efforts that connect their residents with federal benefits and improve local afterschool programs, as well as FRAC's expertise in advancing best practices and policies for reducing hunger in communities across the country.
NLC and FRAC are providing cities with customized assistance, access to best practices and national experts, and opportunities for peer learning and exchange as they develop and implement strategic approaches for increasing utilization of the Afterschool and Summer Meals Programs. Emphasis will be placed on cross-system collaboration among city agencies, school districts and local anti-hunger groups.