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Afterschool Meals Spotlight: Highline Public Schools

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Afterschool and Summer News

Summer is around the corner, but it is not too early to start thinking about afterschool meals.

ImageIf you operate an afterschool program, School’s Out Washington would like you to consider providing afterschool meals to the youth you serve. A rising star in the afterschool meals arena is Highline Public Schools. Through a partnership with Community Schools Collaboration (CSC), which provides educational activities and support for high poverty schools, the Highline School District has served about 1,700 afterschool meals per week since beginning the program in early 2013. Chris Neal, the Nutrition Services Director has spearheaded the initiation and expansion of the afterschool meals program to six schools in the district. School’s Out Washington had the opportunity to speak with Chris Neal about Highline School District’s experience starting an afterschool meals program in the district.

What was the process like to establish the Afterschool Meals Program in your district?

Finding an established program that is working consistently with students after school in schools with high percentages of students qualified for free and reduced meal benefits was the key to establishing the program and managing it successfully in the district. Then, it was essential that we find Nutrition Services employees willing to work extra hours after the school day to manage the program. We also needed to train employees from Nutrition Services and CSC to manage the paperwork and accountability for the program. Finally, a menu planning system was developed giving each site the flexibility to utilize food currently in inventory that met the meal pattern requirements of the CACFP for after school meals.

What would you say to someone who is considering starting an afterschool meals program in their community?

It is definitely a program which benefits children who come from food insecure homes. It takes a little effort to establish a program that works for the individual district but it provides a great service and benefit to children and families. Our students have been excited to have a hot meal offered to them instead of the two item snack.

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If you are operating an afterschool program that provides educational and enrichment activities and you are located in a low-income area, the At Risk Afterschool Meals Program can fund nutritious meals for the youth you serve. With 1 in 4 youth in Washington State living in food insecure households, providing afterschool meals can help ensure that youth are receiving the nutrition they need and may not have access to outside of school.

Interested in learning more about beginning an Afterschool Meals Program in your community? Contact your local program specialist for information, assistance and an application.  Learn more about eligibility guidelines and additional resources for Afterschool Meals Programs.

 


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