Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Afterschool Care Snacks Cycle Menus

Providing snacks for after school programs is a great opportunity to help students practice healthy eating and help adults promote a healthy eating environment. You will be able to strengthen the role of the Food and Nutrition Service as a partner in education as well as health. The Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch and Child and Adult Care Food Programs were expanded through the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act of 1998 (PL 105-336) to provide cash reimbursement for snacks provided to children through age 18 years in certain after school programs. Two four-week cycle menus have been planned to help you get started serving healthy snacks that your participants will enjoy. One cycle menu is for those programs with limited kitchen facilities, and one cycle menu is for those programs that have more traditional kitchen facilities.

Programs offering after school snacks that have limited kitchen facilities are programs that do not have traditional institutional kitchen equipment (such as ovens, freezers, refrigerators, blenders, etc.), but do have access to limited kitchen equipment such as coolers, small preparation areas, cutting boards, knives, spoons, can openers, etc.

Programs offering after school snacks that have traditional kitchen/institutional facilities are programs that have access to traditional institutional kitchen equipment found in many schools and child care centers, such as refrigerators and freezers, conventional and/or convection ovens, microwaves, blenders, etc.

The Afterschool Snacks meal pattern is based on the nutritional needs of children ages 6 to 12 years and is as follows:

Two different components from the four listed must be served:

Milk, Fluid
Meat or meat alternate
Fruit or vegetable or full strength juice
1 cup (8 ounces)
1 ounce
3/4 cup
1 serving

Because Afterschool Snacks are available for children through the age of 18 years, additional foods may be needed to meet the calorie and nutrient needs of children ages 13-18 years. To assist snack providers, each cycle menu has been divided into two age categories: ages 6-12 years and ages 13-18 years. For each menu, the required two components in the appropriate amounts are included. In addition, one optional food component is added for the 13-18 years age group. This optional component is included to assist providers in offering a satisfying snack and in meeting the nutritional needs of the older age group. The optional items are marked on the menus with an "O." Many after school care programs (like the Department of Education's 21st Century Schools Program provide some funding for snacks and may supplement what you receive from USDA should you find that participants require a larger snack than USDA reimbursement rates will provide.

Additional points to keep in mind when serving these snack menus:

  • When juice or milk is planned as an "optional" component, water has been included as a beverage in case the snack provider chooses not to serve the juice or milk;
  • USDA quantity recipes have been used and are annotated in bold type and the source cited. Programs that have limited kitchen facilities can self-prepare products using these recipes or purchase products commercially; and
  • USDA donated commodities have been incorporated into the snack menus and are annotated with an asterisk (*).
Limited Kitchen FacilitiesTraditional Kitchen Facilities
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4

The following resources were utilized in developing these cycle menus:

  • Healthy Meals Resource System: Recipes and Training Materials
  • FNS-304, "Child Care Recipes - Food for Health and Fun"
Page updated: January 24, 2024