Fighting Childhood Hunger

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How to Help Your Child Get Food After School and During the Summer


Many families do not have enough money to pay for the food they need to lead active, healthy lives. Some of these families include children who get breakfast and lunch while they are in school, but are not able to get healthy food after school or during the long summer months that school is out.

Did you know that your child may be able to get free snacks after school or free meals during the summer? There are federal nutrition programs funded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), such as the Afterschool Snack Program and Summer Nutrition Programs that can help.

Afterschool Snack Programs

The SC Department of Social Services (DSS) uses federal funds from the USDA to repay afterschool programs for the healthy snacks they provide for children under age 18. These afterschool programs must qualify with DSS before they can receive repayment. The programs must:

  • Offer regularly scheduled education or enrichment activities. Examples are
    • Arts and Crafts
    • Tutoring/Mentoring
    • History/Culture
    • Reading/Language Arts
    • Science
  • Be located in low-income areas or serve low- income children.

Sometimes afterschool snack programs are held at schools and sometimes they are held at other places that are safe for children.

These places may include:

  • Neighborhood centers
  • Churches
  • Parks and Recreation Departments
  • Recreation Centers

Snacks served through Afterschool Snack Programs also have to meet federal guidelines for nutrition. These snacks must be made up of at least 2 of the following 4 food groups:

  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Fruit/vegetables (or 100% juice)
  • Protein

For example, a snack for your child might be a cup of milk, a slice of bread and 2 tbsp. of peanut butter or an apple and yogurt.

Because these snacks are often free for your child, you can stretch your family’s food dollar! Sometimes these snacks are served even on weekends and on holidays during the school year.

Summer Nutrition Programs

Just like after school, your child also needs healthy food while school is out. During the summer months, children that usually get breakfast or lunch at school may go hungry if they do not get the food they need. That is why the USDA also funds Summer Nutrition Programs for children.

Summer Nutrition Programs provide food to children up to age 18. These children are usually from low- income areas or come from households with low incomes.

Some Summer Nutrition Programs are run through your child’s school and have to follow special rules about the nutritional value of the food your child receives. These programs can provide up to two meals or one meal and one snack per day per child.

Other Summer Nutrition Programs are run through organizations in your area, such as:

  • Day camps
  • Churches
  • Recreation Centers
  • Neighborhood Centers
  • Boys and Girls Clubs

Summer Nutrition Programs run through these groups have to follow a “meal pattern”. The meal pattern makes sure that your child gets the nutrition he or she needs during the summer days.

The meal pattern for summer food service programs usually looks like this:

  • Breakfast
    • 1 cup of milk, and
    • 1 serving of fruits and vegetables (or 100% juice), and
    • 1 serving of grain
  • Lunch and Supper
    • 1 cup of milk, and
    • 2 servings of fruits or vegetables, and
    • 1 serving of grains, and
    • 1 serving of protein
  • Snack (2 of the following)
    • 1 cup of milk
    • 1 serving of grains 1 serving of fruits or vegetables
    • 1 serving of protein

A breakfast for your child might be 1 cup of milk, a serving of whole grain cereal, and a banana. A lunch or supper for your child might be a sandwich made of lean meat, lettuce and tomato, with milk and an orange.

How To Get Your Child Into A Programfighting hunger 1

To get your child into the Afterschool Snack Program or a Summer Nutrition Program, you can call the South Carolina Department of Social Services at 1-800-768-5700.

You can also contact your child’s school to find out where the Afterschool Snack Programs and Summer Nutrition Programs are located in your area.

This brochure is for information only. This is not all the information you need to know if you want to enroll your child in an Afterschool Snack or Summer Nutrition Program.

This brochure was published by the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

SC Appleseed also thanks the Food Research and Action Center and the SC Department of Social Services for information used in the preparation of this brochure.

Revised March 2013
Copyright retained by South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center. For permission to reproduce this brochure contact SC Appleseed P.O. Box 7187 Columbia, SC 29202
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