NJ gaining on afterschool suppers

children eating in the cafeteria

New Jersey communities achieved one of the highest increases in the nation when it comes to serving afterschool suppers to more students, according to a national report released today.

The Food Research & Action Center’s report, Afterschool Suppers: A Snapshot of Participationfound that the number of New Jersey children receiving afterschool suppers rose 22.5 percent from October 2017 to October 2018, when more than 24,000 children received a snack or meal on an average day. Only 10 states achieved higher increases.

The number of students receiving afterschool snacks also grew, rising 6 percent during that same time. In October 2018, 43,547 children received afterschool snacks through two federal programs – the National School Lunch Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

“This is great progress and helps fight hunger for children who might otherwise go home to an empty dinner table,’’ said Adele LaTourette, director, Hunger Free New Jersey. “Federal child nutrition programs like afterschool meals give students the nourishment they need to be healthy and succeed in school.’’

LaTourette noted, however, that New Jersey still falls short of serving supper to the FRAC recommended 15 percent of students who receive free or reduced-price school lunch. With a 5.4 supper participation rate, New Jersey was below the national 6.2 average.

If New Jersey reached the recommended 15 percent, communities would collect an additional $19.9 million each year in federal funds for afterschool suppers, according to a September report by Hunger Free New Jersey.

Many school districts continue to serve snacks through the National School Lunch Program, primarily because it is easier to administer since they are already participating through lunch service. FRAC’s report found that 55 percent of New Jersey’s afterschool nutrition is served through the National School Lunch Program.

The problem is, this program does not provide reimbursements for suppers and does not allow meal service on weekends or during school breaks.

The Child and Adult Care Food Program, on the other hand, provides generous reimbursements for snacks and suppers served in both schools and community-based afterschool programs. Those meals can be served on the weekends and during school breaks, under this program.

“We encourage more New Jersey school districts to switch to serving suppers, in addition to snacks,’’ LaTourette said. “For many children, a snack alone will not ward off the hunger they face when struggling families are unable to put dinner on the table every night.’’

Under CACFP, any community with at least half of children qualified to receive free or reduced-price school meals can provide snacks and suppers using federal funds.

“We are leaving so much money on the table that could be used to feed hungry children,’’ LaTourette noted. “It just doesn’t make sense. While it takes some effort to implement the program, once it’s up and running, schools routinely report that serving supper helps address student hunger, which is a major barrier to learning.’’

Child Nutrition Reauthorization, currently being considered by Congress, provides an opportunity to invest in afterschool meals by streamlining the program to allow more New Jersey children to receive this critical nutrition, LaTourette said.

Increasing private and public funding for afterschool programs — including more investment of federal, state, and local dollars — would also help meet the demand for quality afterschool programs, which far outstrips supply in low-income communities, the report found.

In addition to providing good nutrition, afterschool programs also bolster academic achievement, provide safe places for children to play and learn after school and support working parents.

“The nutrition and enrichment activities provided through afterschool programs support both children’s health and learning,” LaTourette said. “We need to bolster that support by increasing the number of programs offering afterschool activities and suppers, and make sure they are affordable and accessible for low-income families.”

View the report. For more information about hunger in New Jersey, visit hungerfreenj.org.

The Food Research & Action Center is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. To learn more, visit FRAC.org,

Hunger Free New Jersey works to change policy and practice to ensure that every single New Jersey resident has healthy food to eat, every single day.

Suppers a growing option for NJ kids

Children receiving afterschool supper

Afterschool suppers are on the menu in a growing number of New Jersey communities, giving more children the afternoon nutrition they need to stay healthy and succeed in school, according to a new report by Hunger Free New Jersey.

From 2016 to 2019, the number of children served dinners rose 34 percent, translating to nearly 24,000 children receiving this meal each day in afterschool programs operated by schools, community organizations and local governments, according to Food for Thought: The State of Afterschool Meals in New Jersey, 2019.

In March 2019, communities served nearly 485,000 suppers to children who might otherwise go home to an empty dinner table. These communities collected $1.8 million for snacks and suppers served in March alone.

Despite this progress, New Jersey still falls short of reaching 15 percent of low-income children who eat free or reduced-price school lunch – a national standard set by the Food Research & Action Center.

If New Jersey achieved that goal, communities could collect an additional $19.9 million in federal dollars to feed children, the report found.

“This is incredible progress and means that many more children are receiving this important afternoon and evening nutrition, helping to combat childhood hunger,’’ said Adele LaTourette, director, Hunger Free New Jersey. “But we have a lot more work to do. We are still reaching just 6 percent of children who could benefit from suppers.’’

Afterschool meals can be provided to children up to age 18 at afterschool programs based in schools, community and faith-based sites. Funding is provided through two federal programs: The Child and Adult Care Food Program and the National School Lunch Program. While schools have for years served snacks through the school lunch program, suppers are a relatively new addition through CACFP.


Unlike the school lunch program, CACFP allows communities to serve both snacks and suppers. Meals can also be served on weekends and during school breaks. This gives communities more opportunities to fill the meal gaps children often face when they lack access to school meals, LaTourette said.

“We’re really encouraging more school districts to switch to CACFP,’’ LaTourette said.  “They can feed dinner to students during the week and during breaks, while collecting higher federal reimbursements.’’

“We know that many New Jersey families struggle to put food on the table,’’ said Cecilia Zalkind, president & CEO, Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “We know that poor nutrition leads to poor outcomes for kids, so it is crucial that communities work together to tap into this and other federal child nutrition programs.’’

Reinvestment Fund, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has established a new fund to help communities participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

The New Jersey Child Nutrition Fund provides capital funding and technical assistance for federal nutrition program sponsors, sites and meal vendors to expand the availability of fresh and nutritious food to children across New Jersey.

“We are accepting applications from communities across New Jersey and look forward to working in partnership to ensure that more children get the healthy, nutritious food they need to thrive,’’ said Donna Leuchten Nuccio, senior director of healthy food access, Reinvestment Fund, which contributed to the Hunger Free New Jersey report.

In addition to providing good nutrition, afterschool programs also bolster academic achievement, provide safe places for children to play and learn after school and support working parents.

“Far too many children come home from school to an empty table and may not get anything to eat until they go to school the next morning,’’ LaTourette said. “There is absolutely no reason for this when federal dollars are waiting to be claimed to feed these children.’’

Read the report and view local data.

New funds fuels afterschool, summer meals expansion

children eating in the cafeteria


A new source of funding and technical assistance is now available to help summer meals and afterschool sponsors, sites and vendors serve up more meals to children across New Jersey. N

The New Jersey Child Nutrition Fund (NJCNF), created and administered by the Reinvestment Fund and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides capital funding and technical assistance to child care providers, community-based organizations and food vendors who participate or seek to participate in the federal Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Through a rolling application process, funding will be available with grant awards ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to fund program planning and additional grant and loan funds available as capital investment and implementation awards.Learn More.

Consultants sought to aid expansion efforts, Informational webinar tomorrow

The Reinvestment Fund has also issued a Request for Qualifications to recruit individuals and organizations who can provide technical assistance and industry-specific consulting services to the fund’s New Jersey grantees. Professionals with general business and project planning expertise, as well as specialized expertise as it pertains to CACFP and SFSP programs, are encouraged to apply.

An informational webinar is set for April 2 at 2 p.m. Click here to register for the webinar. RFQ submissions are due April 16.