ASES grantees that sponsor the Child and Adult Care Food Program for themselves must
decide how to get their food and prepare it each day. A grantee may choose to prepare
the food itself or choose to have the meals provided by a vendor. Either option is
acceptable. The type of food provided (suppers or snacks), concerns about food quality,
and the availability of an organization willing to provide the meals should guide
Food Preparation Requirements
Snacks are relatively easy to offer at the after
school program and usually do not require much preparation or extensive kitchen facilities.
Prepackaged snacks, such as graham crackers or bread sticks, and individual milk or
juice containers, require little preparation time. It is very important, however,
for after school programs to include fresh fruits and vegetables in their menus to
improve the nutrition quality of snacks. Oranges, bananas, apples, pears, grapes,
carrots, and other healthy snacks require little or no preparation time and are easy
Meals require greater work. An after school program
choosing to prepare meals must have kitchen facilities that meet health and safety
standards. If hot meals are being prepared, the after school program will need, at
a minimum, a stove, a sink, and adequate refrigeration and storage. Providing cold
meals will not require a stove, but it will require a clean and sanitary area where
the meals can be prepared. If kitchen facilities are not available on site, programs
usually contract with a vendor.
Availability of Vendors
Potential vendors include school food service departments, community kitchens, food
banks, hospitals, other nonprofit organizations, and for-profit companies. The supply
of vendors able to provide snacks or meals at an affordable price often depends on
the size and resources of a community. In some rural communities, a vendor may not
even be an option.
The size of the after school program and the type of meal service also determine whether
or not vendors are interested in providing the food. A vendor is more likely to be
interested in providing suppers to 100 children than in providing snacks to 20 children.
ASES grantees only serving snacks often choose to prepare the food on site unless
they are serving a large number of children, because the reimbursement rate for snacks
may not be high enough to cover the cost of contracting with a local vendor.