The following is a company-submitted press release and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of School Planning & Management magazine.

Afterschool Suppers and Afterschool Programs Key to Student Success

Research shows that afterschool programs provide measurable benefits to students academically, socially, and behaviorally, and serve as an important resource for families and communities. In addition to drawing children into safe and engaging learning environments, they provide a critical platform for providing federally reimbursable and nutritious afterschool suppers and snacks.

FRAC’s new Afterschool Suppers: A Snapshot of Participation report finds that in Oct. 2017, 1.2 million children received an afterschool supper on an average weekday, an 11 percent increase from October 2016, and 1.6 million children received an afterschool snack. Forty-six thousand afterschool programs provided a supper, a snack, or both through the federal Afterschool Nutrition Programs in October 2017.

While positive gains have been made over the last eight years, since the Afterschool Supper Program became available nationwide, supplies for afterschool suppers are still falling short of the need — just one child received an afterschool supper for every 19 children who received free or reduced-price school lunch received in October 2017.

One of the biggest challenges to expanding afterschool meals is the limited public and private funding that supports afterschool programming in low-income communities. An important way to connect more children to afterschool suppers is to ensure that there are enough affordable afterschool programs available for families to send their children to. Meeting this need (more than half of children [56 percent] not in an afterschool program would be enrolled in one if it were available to them) means maintaining and investing more in existing funding streams, such as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. This is the largest funding source for afterschool programs, but only provides funding for 1.7 million children on an average day.

Combined, more public and private funding (on the federal, state, and local levels) for high-quality, affordable afterschool programs and the implementation of other proven best practices would ensure children have access to the nutrition and programming they need to support their academic achievement, health, and well-being. Thanks to the leadership and advocacy of the Afterschool Alliance and other partners, more children are benefiting from afterschool programs and suppers than ever before. Now is the time to redouble those efforts.

Learn more about closing the afterschool hunger gap in Afterschool Suppers: A Snapshot of Participation.

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