By Imani Hope
In the past year, 4,885 additional children in 11 cities have received healthy meals at local afterschool programs as a result of city efforts to leverage federal Afterschool Meal Program funding. With this influx of resources, municipal leaders and their school and community partners have launched 115 new afterschool meal sites, providing children and youth with almost 327,080 meals.
Local officials in these cities - Boise, Idaho; Bridgeport, Conn.; Charlottesville, Va.; Chicago, Ill.; Denver, Colo.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Nashville, Tenn.; Northfield, Minn.; Omaha, Neb.; Orlando, Fla.; and Tampa, Fla. - expect the impact of their efforts to grow throughout the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. By the end of this school year, they expect to reach a total of 10,334 children with 759,153 meals in 153 new afterschool sites. As they plan to expand the number of sites offering meals during the following school year, they anticipate that these totals will grow to 300 sites feeding nearly 23,000 additional children by September 2013.
Throughout 2012, each city participated in the year-long Cities Combating Hunger through Afterschool Meal Programs (CHAMP) initiative sponsored by NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families in partnership with the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and with support from the Walmart Foundation.
The $1 million CHAMP initiative sought to raise awareness of and participation in the federal Afterschool Meal Program, which reimburses afterschool enrichment programs that serve healthy meals in low-income neighborhoods and which was recently expanded to cover all 50 states. Cities can play unique roles in reducing childhood hunger by leveraging this untapped federal funding stream for afterschool programs run by city governments, school districts and nonprofit organizations.
To facilitate local utilization of the federal program, NLC and FRAC provided an initial cohort of 21 cities with training and technical assistance at two leadership academies. Of these cities, four received regranted funds and more intensive assistance to launch new afterschool meal programs, and seven received regranted funds and assistance to leverage existing citywide afterschool systems to increase access to afterschool meals. NLC also enhanced local capacity for expanding participation in the Afterschool Meal Program by regranting funds to six nonprofit anti-hunger groups that worked with the project cities on implementation.
In December 2012, representatives from the 11 CHAMP project cities gathered in Jacksonville, Fla., for a two-day meeting to share lessons learned and to discuss plans for sustainability and next steps. The meeting also provided attendees with an opportunity to reflect on the significant impact the program has had on children and families in their communities. Due to the leadership of city officials and their partnerships with schools, community organizations and anti-hunger groups, thousands of children from low-income families who would otherwise go hungry after school are receiving meals and afterschool providers are serving healthy food at several hundred additional program sites.
To build on these efforts, NLC has launched a new phase of the CHAMP initiative in 2013, with an emphasis on both afterschool and summer meal programs. Twenty-one cities have been selected to participate in two upcoming leadership academies and will have the opportunity to apply for pass-through grants and additional assistance.
To learn more about this initiative, contact Imani Hope at (202) 626-3180 or firstname.lastname@example.org.