After-School Snacks and Suppers
USDA provides after-school snacks to school children through either its National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
In addition to serving NSLP lunches, schools can offer nutritious snacks as part of after-care educational programs or enrichment activities. Snacks are subsidized on a sliding scale, based on whether students qualify for free, reduced-price, or full-price lunches. Schools in which at least 50 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals are "area eligible" and subsidized at the free rate for all participating students. Participation in the NSLP After-School Snack Program—authorized by Congress in 1998—although smaller than lunch and breakfast program participation, is growing. The program reached an average of 1.4 million snacks served daily in fiscal year (FY) 2012 and over 230 million snacks served that year. Almost all snacks were served in high-need area eligible schools.
Through USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), after-school snacks can be served by third-party sponsors of community-based after-school enrichment programs in those areas, where at least 50 percent of the children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. Beginning in 2000, some State CACFP programs were given the option to offer after-school suppers through community programs in these at-risk areas. In December 2010, Congress extended this option to all of the States. Through this option, community programs may also serve breakfast or lunch on weekends, holidays, and school breaks, addressing gaps that may occur when at-risk children are not in school.