Afterschool Meals Through CACFP Help Ensure Low-Income Children Don't go to bed Hungry

Many children’s days don’t end when the last school bell rings. In fact, a report conducted by the Afterschool Alliance found that participation in afterschool programs has consistently increased over the past 10 years, rising by nearly 2 million children in the last five year years alone. The At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program through the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is one of the most effective defenses in the fight against child hunger, as it provides the funding to serve suppers at eligible afterschool programs. Any program that provides child care and enrichment activities (e.g. tutoring, music lessons, arts and crafts, etc.) after school, on weekends, holidays, or breaks during the school year and operates in an area where 50% of children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals is eligible for CACFP.

Our goal is to raise awareness about this program and support our partners on the ground at schools and nonprofits across San Diego County with information, application assistance, grant writing, and administrative review to expand CACFP meal sites in our region.

Through our Hunger Free Kids Task Force, we have been able to connect Feeding San Diego with Vista Community Clinic to expand afterschool meals at the Clinic’s youth-serving Project REACH program at two different locations in Oceanside. At the Libby Lake Community Center, the Clinic’s physicians actively inform parents about the afterschool meals available just upstairs at the Project REACH offices, helping to promote both free meals and enrichment activities available to their children.

Additionally, Feeding San Diego serves as a sponsor to provide CACFP youth meals at North County Lifeline’s Las Casitas and La Escuelita’s Youth Development Clubs. These two sites serve afterschool suppers every weekday, totaling at least 150 meals each week, with the help of meal vendor Top Notch Catering. And because the funding grows as a program grows, their goal to consistently increase the number of meals served is made easily attainable because each meal is reimbursed through the United States Department of Agriculture at its fixed rate, with no devaluation or loss on behalf of the program.

Libby Lake Park, Oceanside, CA

Libby Lake Park, Oceanside, CA

While we are making promising strides with CACFP locally, No Kid Hungry and the School Nutrition Foundation have found a large gap in afterschool meals nationally. There are less than four afterschool suppers served for every hundred school lunches going to kids in need across the country.

Their “Three Meals a Day: A Win-Win-Win” report outlines the great need for afterschool meals:

CACFP_3 Meals A Day Graphic.png

CACFP has the means to address these needs through the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, and yet eligible programs are still not taking advantage of this viable solution. Many afterschool meal sites serve no meals or only a small snack. If they do provide food, it is often paid for out of the program’s general fund or the staff’s own dime, causing the program to miss out on valuable federal meal reimbursements.

Become a champion for youth meals in your area! Visit the Hunger Free Kids Task Force webpage or attend an upcoming meeting for more information. If you know of an afterschool program that may be eligible for CACFP, please contact our Hunger Free Kids Program Director Robin McNulty at

Hunger Coalition writes grant with City of Oceanside to expand Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs

Oceanside children will soon have access to more food after school and during the summer thanks to a $20,000 grant awarded to the City of Oceanside by the National League of Cities.

Oceanside children will soon have access to more food after school and during the summer thanks to a $20,000 grant awarded to the City of Oceanside by the National League of Cities.

Oceanside will soon be able to better address child hunger thanks to a $20,000 grant from the National League of Cities. With the CHAMPS grant funding, the Hunger Coalition will partner with the City of Oceanside and Oceanside Unified School District to raise awareness about child hunger and increase participation in the city’s existing out-of-school meal programs, and launch new afterschool and summer meal sites. Thanks to the Coast News for their coverage of this initiative 

The Hunger Coalition will serve as the project manager for the CHAMPS grant and will work closely with the City of Oceanside on the development, implementation and monitoring of progress for this initiative.

An important part of this work will be convening summer meal sites and sponsors to be part of the North County Youth Meals Task Force. This group will work to strengthen relationships and business processes with the City, the school district, school nutrition offices, day care centers and preschools, local government health and human services agencies, nonprofit and faith-based organizations, and low-income housing complexes to increase the number of summer meal sites and participation and programming at existing sites. The first meeting of the North County Youth Meals Task Force will be held at the end of April. All North County summer meal sites and sponsors are invited to attend.

North County is often categorized as a wealthy community, but many areas exceed the County’s poverty rate of 13.89%. Oceanside has an overall poverty rate of 14.2% (1 in 7 people below poverty level), but has many neighborhoods where the rate is higher than 20% (1 in 5 people below poverty). Oceanside aligns with current statewide food insecurity rates, whereas 1 in 4 children do not have enough to eat, and 17 of 20 low-income students fall into the summer nutrition gap.

More information on the Hunger Coalition’s work to expand access to youth meals across San Diego County can be found here.

San Diego Hunger Coalition’s 2017 San Diego Summer Meals Task Force began meeting in March. They meet every month through September. For more information about the San Diego or North County meetings, please contact Robin McNulty at