Providence Afterschool Meals

What are the program goals?

In the city of Providence, 26.3% of the population lives below the federal poverty level and 90% of public school students are eligible to receive free and reduced-priced meals. To increase participation in the summer meal program, to focus on healthy living policies, and to emphasize community coordination and systems change in Providence city leaders established the Healthy Communities Office

Working in close coordination with the Parks and Recreation Department and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, the initiative had three goals: 
1.      Increase capacity of program providers to implement afterschool and summer meal programs
2.      Increase overall participation in afterschool and summer meal programs
3.      Improve seamless implementation of year-round out-of-school time meals

In addition, Providence is a faculty city that has two mentee cities, Newport and Central Falls. The Healthy Communities Office will serve as a facilitator and mentor of staff in these two cities as they strive to create new summer and afterschool meal sites.

Who are the program partners?

The Healthy Communities Office is partnering with the Providence Public School DistrictProvidence Parks and Recreation DepartmentPartnership for Providence ParksRhode Island Community Food BankRhode Island Department of EducationProvidence After School Alliance, and Sodexo.

What are the Key Outreach Strategies?

From 2013-14, Providence conducted outreach to school leaders via survey and provided information about free snacks available to their school-based enrichment program activities. After compiling the survey results, officials set up meetings with the different schools and were able to bring snacks to nine additional schools.

Using their pass-through grant funds, the city team developed a number of marketing materials designed to spread the word - in both English and Spanish - about the availability of free summer meals for kids and teens 18 and under. The messages appear around the city on printed banners, posters and city street lights; are sent home with students on door hangers for parents; and appear on flags posted by tents covering the summer meal sites. In addition to printed materials, the city is making use of local English and Spanish radio stations to deliver the message to parents about where their kids can access free meals during the summer months.

Success Measures

For Summer Meals:
107 sites, increased from 97
126,984 meals served in 2013
157,984 meals served in 2014, increased by 25% from 2013
Goal for summer of 2015: 170,000 meals served

For Afterschool Meals:

5 new Providence After School Alliance sites
20,000 suppers served in the 2014-2015 school year

Primary Author & NLC Contact
Jamie Nash
Institute for Youth, Education & Families

Updated July 2015

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