Making the Most of Child Nutrition Funding:
A Guide for After School Education and Safety Grantees

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Introduction
After School Funding
Summer Funding
Reimbursement Rates
Meeting the Match Requirements
Working with School Food Departments
Nutrition Standards
Nutrition Resources
Model Programs
 

 

 

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Funding for After School Programs

Two federal child nutrition programs can provide funding to ASES grantees for food.

  • The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides reimbursement for snacks to school-sponsored after school programs. The school-sponsored after school program can be operated by a school or by another organization such as a YMCA on or off school grounds.
  • The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides reimbursement for snacks and, in some cases, meals to after school programs that are operated by schools, local government agencies, and private nonprofit organizations.

Generally, ASES grantees will participate in NSLP unless they want to serve suppers, which are only available through CACFP. The California Community Child Nutrition Pilot Project is an important option for local government agencies (not including schools) and private nonprofits that serve children year-round. It provides reimbursement for snacks during the school year and meals during the summer.

Food Available to After School Programs Through NSLP or CACFP

Knowing basic information about each nutrition program can help you determine which one will best meet your after school programs needs. Consider the ages of the children participating in your program, whether your program will serve snacks or meals, and the days your program will operate. Most, if not all, ASES grantees are located in a low-income area. Because this is a priority for receiving funding, they should qualify for nutrition funding based on site and individual eligibility.

Child Nutrition Program Ages Food Available Eligibility* Days of Service Pros/Cons
NSLP 0-18 Snack Site or Individual After school Less administrative work, but the food service department determines the snack menus
CACFP 0-18 Snack Site After school, weekends, and school holidays More administrative work, but the snacks are determined by the after school program
CACFP 0-12 Up to two Meals and a Snack Individual 365 days per year More administrative work, but meals can be served in addition to snacks

Note: *Eligibility refers to how the after school program qualifies for funding and is reimbursed for the nutrition program. Site means the program qualifies by being located in a low-income area and receives the highest rate of reimbursement for all snacks served. Eligibility for individuals is determined for each child based on his or her household income.

NSLP Snack Basics

Program Administration

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the easiest way for an ASES grantee to receive federal funds for after school snacks. If the after school program wants to serve suppers or get reimbursed for food served on weekends or school holidays, it must participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The school food service department—not the after school program—is administratively and fiscally responsible for operating the snack program. The school food service department completes the application for the California Department of Education, develops the menus, provides the snacks, and submits the number of snacks served each month to the state agency for reimbursement. The school food service department uses the reimbursement to cover its food and labor costs.

The logistics of the snack program will be determined, in large part, by the school's resources. The most common design is for the cafeteria staff to put together the snacks and store them in a designated area within the kitchen or outside the kitchen. Perishable items are often stored in coolers. The after school program picks up the snacks, serves them to the students in the cafeteria or another designated area, keeps an attendance roster, and takes a meal count. Leftover snacks can often be stored for future use, so long as the food is kept at the proper temperature. The school food service department will determine whether this storing and reusing of the food is allowable.

Health and Safety Requirements

Typically, an ASES Program operated by a city, county, or private nonprofit organization can operate for up to 30 hours per week without being a licensed after school provider. Programs that are not required by state or local law to be licensed simply must meet state and local health and safety standards to participate in the federal nutrition programs.

Most ASES grantees will not have to meet any additional health and safety requirements to offer NSLP snacks, because schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program already meet health and safety standards. In situations where the after school program takes place off school grounds, the school food service department must ensure that the after school program is meeting health and safety standards.

Reimbursement and Funding

Schools are reimbursed for providing snacks in one of two ways.

  • If the ASES Program is located in a low-income areaany area where the elementary, middle, or high school has 50 percent or more of its students qualified for free or reduced-price school meals (meaning their incomes are below 185 percent of the federal poverty line)then the school receives the highest rate of reimbursement, called the free rate, for all snacks it serves to all children. ASES grants prioritize schools that have at least 50 percent of their students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, so most, if not all, grantees meet this criterion. In the rare case in which a school does not meet the 50 percent requirement, the school can qualify using the data of another school that serves the area. For example, a middle or junior high school can qualify using the local elementary school data and an elementary school can qualify using data from the middle or junior high school.
  • The rare ASES program that is not in a low-income area can still receive federal funds for snacks. They receive reimbursement in a three-tiered system (i.e., "free," "reduced-price," or "paid") based upon each participants school meal application. They do not have to collect new applications but can rely on school data; they just receive less than the optimal reimbursement. (Check out reimbursement rates. The reimbursement rates are adjusted annually for inflation.)

Age Requirement

Children ages 18 and younger can participate in NSLP, so all children participating in an ASES-funded program are eligible for snacks. If an ASES grantee hires teens ages 18 and younger to work in the program or uses teens as volunteers, the teens also are eligible to receive a snack. Each child can receive one snack per day.

Days of Service

NSLP snacks can only be served on school days. Snacks served on weekends or school holidays cannot be reimbursed through NSLP. (CACFP provides reimbursement for food served on weekends and school holidays. Programs that operate on non-school days may decide that it makes more sense to participate through CACFP instead of NSLP.)

How to Get Started

To receive snacks through the NSLP, the fastest and simplest way to get started is to ask the school food service department to provide them. Often, this is an easy conversation. For some tips on how to engage the school food service department, click here.

If the school food service department is unwilling to provide snacks through NSLP, the County Office of Education may be able to sponsor NSLP. In many areas, the County Office of Education participates in NSLP to provide meals to children in the programs it operates, such as its Special Education Programs. The County Office of Education is administratively and financially responsible for operating NSLP in the same way that the school food service department is, but it usually contracts with a vendor to provide the meals and snacks. Often the school food service department is the vendor that prepares the food. Contact the County Office of Education to find out if it would be willing to sponsor NSLP for your program.

CACFP Basics

Most ASES grantees are eligible for snacks through National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and NSLP is the easiest way for an ASES grantee to participate. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is an attractive alternative if the ASES Program wants to provide more than just a snack–particularly if it wants to serve supper–if the program operates on weekends or school holidays, or if the ASES Program wants control over the food that is served. (Under NSLP, the school food service department, not the after school program, develops the menus.)

ASES grantees can feed children through CACFP in one of two ways.

  • CACFP Suppers. CACFP will reimburse ASES grantees for a maximum of two meals and a snack each day served to children younger than age 13. Generally, the after school program would participate in CACFP to provide suppers and, potentially, a snack, but it could serve breakfast, lunch, and a snack if it offers services and activities on weekends or school holidays. This program is commonly called CACFP Outside School Hours Care Centers. For more information, click here.
  • CACFP Snacks. CACFP, like NSLP, will provide reimbursement for snacks served to children ages 18 and younger if the program is located in a low-income areadefined as an area where 50 percent or more of the children in the local elementary, middle, or high school are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. Most ASES grantees meet this low-income area requirement because it is a priority for receiving funding. For more information, click here.

CACFP Supper Basics

ASES grantees can take the snack requirement a step further and provide a nutritious supper through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Generally, CACFP suppers are served no earlier than 5 p.m., but an after school program may be able to serve suppers earlier through a waiver. (A waiver could be granted if school lunch was served at least two and one-half hours prior to the time that supper would be served.) ASES programs could even provide a snack and a supper since they are required to operate for three hours each day. And programs operating on weekends and school holidays could provide breakfast, lunch, and a snack under the Outside School Hours Care Center option.

After school programs often choose to provide suppers in these instances.

  • The program serves a large number of low-income children who would benefit from receiving a healthy evening meal. Some after school program staff report that the evening meal they provide is the last meal the children receive until they get to school the next day.
  • The program operates longer hours to provide more programming or to support working families.
  • The program has concerns about the adequacy of the snack. For many children, an apple and a glass of milk is not enough, especially if the after school program involves a lot of physical activity.

Program Administration

The school food service department can administer CACFP for the ASES grantee, which makes participation easier for the after school program, or the after school program can take on the responsibility. The school food service department is often in the best position to sponsor CACFP if the department is willing to do so.

  • Even though CACFP is a separate program from NSLP with a different application process and different administrative rules, the knowledge and experience of already running a nutrition program—completing the paperwork, developing the menus and putting together the food, and submitting the claims—make it easier for the school food service department to administer CACFP.
  • The school food service department may already be sponsoring CACFP for the districts Head Start or prekindergarten programs.

If the school food service department sponsors the suppers, it typically is responsible for putting together the meals. The cafeteria staff usually puts together the meals and stores them in a designated area within the kitchen or outside the kitchen. Perishable items often are stored in coolers. The after school program picks up the meals, serves them to the students in the cafeteria or another designated area, completes the paperwork, and later cleans up the area.

If the program serves hot meals, the cafeteria staff would probably serve the meals, but it is more cost-effective for the after school program to be responsible for serving the food. Leftover meals can often be stored for reuse, so long as the food is kept at the proper temperature. The health department (or the school food service department if it sponsors CACFP) will provide guidance on whether or not storing and reusing the food is allowable.

If the after school program sponsors CACFP itself, then it is responsible for completing the application, developing menus, determining where the food will come from, keeping meal counts, and distributing the meals. The California Department of Education will train after school programs and provide technical assistance on running the nutrition program.

Health and Safety Requirements

Typically, an ASES Program operated by a city, county, or private nonprofit organization can operate for up to 30 hours per week without being a licensed after school provider. Programs that are not required by state or local law to be licensed simply must meet state and local health and safety standards to participate in the nutrition programs.

Most ASES grantees will not have to meet any additional health and safety requirements to participate in CACFP, because schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program already meet health and safety standards. However, an after school program receiving suppers from the school but not located at the school, or one that sponsors CACFP itself, may need to meet additional standards depending on state or local rules.

Reimbursement and Funding

Reimbursements vary based on the eligibility of the children in the program for free, reduced-price, or paid meals. For example, in a program individually qualifying the children, if 75 percent of the children are eligible for free meals, 15 percent for reduced-price meals, and 10 percent for paid meals, then 75 percent of the reimbursements would be at the free rate, 15 percent at the reduced-price rate, and 10 percent at the paid rate. Income guidelines and reimbursement rates are adjusted annually every July 1st. For more information, see www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/rs.

The children's school meal applications also qualify them for meals through CACFP. If the school food service department is sponsoring CACFP, then it does not have to collect a second set of applications from students because it has already collected applications for school lunch.

If the school is the sponsor of CACFP (regardless of whether the sponsor is the school food service department or the school run after school program), then the students' eligiblity for free- or reduced-price school meals can determine their eligibility for meals through CACFP. A second application does not have to be collected

If a nonprofit organization or government agency is sponsoring CACFP, then it must collect income eligibilty forms for the children. This is because California laaw does not allow schools to share students' eligibility for school meals with sponsors of other child nutrition programs even though it is allowed under federal law.

After school programs can serve snacks as well as suppers, generally as long as there is at least two hours between serving the supper and the snack. A program located in a low-income area—defined as an area where 50 percent or more of the children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals—can serve snacks through NSLP (if the school food service department is sponsoring the program) or CACFP and receive the free rate of reimbursement for all snacks, regardless of the household income of the children in the program. To receive the free reimbursement for snacks, programs must fill out a second agreement and a secon claim for reimbursement. This is a relatively easy process and the state is developing an electronic claiming process, which will make it even easier. (All meals are reimbursed based upon the household income of the children.)

Age Requirement

Only children younger than age 13 can participate in CACFP. Each child can receive a maximum of two meals and a snack per day. An after school program can provide an after school supper and snack during the week. If it operates on the weekend, then it can provide breakfast, lunch, and a snack.

Days of Service

After school programs that qualify for CACFP by individually qualifying children for the nutrition program can feed children any day of the year. (Programs operating year-round may choose to switch to one of the summer nutrition programs if there a significant change in their programming.)

How to Get Started

To participate in CACFP meals, first ask the school food service department to sponsor the program for you. Often, this is an easy conversation. For tips on how to engage the school food service department, click here.

An ASES grantee can sponsor CACFP itself. To participate, contact the California Department of Education at 1-800-952-5609 or visit www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/cc/.

CACFP Snack Basics

 

Program Administration

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is available to ASES grantees to provide snacks. CACFP snacks could be sponsored by the school food service department but, in most situations, CACFP snacks would be sponsored by the ASES grantee. This is because the school food service department also has the option of providing snacks for an ASES grantee through NSLP. The school food service department already operates NSLP to provide lunch during the school day, so providing snacks through NSLP requires less administrative work than CACFP. CACFP requires an additional application and operates under different rules. .

The sponsor is responsible for completing the application, developing menus, determining where the food will come from, keeping meal counts, and distributing the meals. The California Department of Education will train after school programs and provide technical assistance on running the nutrition program.

Health and Safety Requirements

Typically, an ASES Program operated by a city, county, or private nonprofit organization can operate for up to 30 hours per week without being a licensed after school provider. Programs that are not required by state or local law to be licensed simply must meet state and local health and safety standards to participate in the nutrition programs. After school programs that are not required by California law to be licensed must meet state and local health and safety standards.

Most ASES grantees will not have to meet any additional health and safety requirements to participate in CACFP, because schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program already meet health and safety standards. However, an after school program receiving snacks from the school but not located at the school, or one that sponsors CACFP itself, may need to meet additional standards depending on state or local rules.

Reimbursement and Funding

Programs receive the highest rate of federal reimbursement for all snacks, but they must be located in a low-income area—defined as an area where the elementary, middle, or high school has 50 percent or more of its students qualified for free or reduced-price school meals (meaning their incomes are below 185 percent of the federal poverty level).

The ASES Program gives priority to schools with at least 50 percent of their students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, so most, if not all, grantees meet this criterion. In the rare case in which a program does not meet the 50 percent requirement, the program can qualify using the data of another school that serves the area. For example, a program serving middle or junior high students can qualify using the local elementary school data and vice versa.

Age Requirement

All children participating in an ASES-funded program are eligible to receive snacks because children age 18 and younger can participate. If an ASES grantee hires teens to work in the program or uses teens as volunteers, the teens also are eligible to receive a snack. Each child can receive one snack per day.

Days of Service

After school programs that qualify for CACFP snacks by being located in a low-income area can feed children any day during the school year—after school, on weekends, and on school holidays—but CACFP cannot be used during summer vacation.

The few ASES programs that are not run by schoolsthat are run by nonprofit organizations or local government agenciesand that operate year-round can participate in the California Community Child Nutrition Pilot Project. This project provides reimbursement for meals and snacks served during summer vacation or extended breaks of year-round schools as well as snacks during the school year through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). All other summer food rules apply (e.g., eligibility for sites, age requirements, and reimbursement rates). The purpose of the pilot is to make it easier to feed children year-round so sponsors do not have to switch back and forth between SFSP and CACFP. The pilot is in effect until 2009, but it is likely that it will be extended.

How to Get Started

To participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, contact the California Department of Education at 1-800-952-5609 or visit www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/cc/.