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Afterschool Snacks

Children playing outside

The afterschool snack component of the National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted snack service that fills the afternoon hunger gap for school children. The snack service is administered at the federal level by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service. At the state level, it is administered by state agencies, which operate the snack service through agreements with local school food authorities (SFAs). SFAs are ultimately responsible for the administration of the snack service.

The NSLP Afterschool Snack Service offers cash reimbursement to help SFAs provide a nutritional boost to children enrolled in afterschool activities. Participating SFAs receive cash subsidies from the USDA for each reimbursable snack they serve (up to one reimbursement per participant per day). In return, they must serve snacks that meet Federal requirements and must offer free or reduced price snacks to eligible children.

In order for the afterschool care program to be eligible, is must provide organized, regularly scheduled activities in a structured and supervised environment, including an educational or enrichment activity. Examples of eligible activities include homework assistance, tutoring, supervised “drop-in” athletic programs, extended day programs, drama activities, and arts and crafts programs. Organized interscholastic programs or community-level competitive sports are not eligible to participate.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service Programs for
Out-of-School-Time Providers
 CACFP At-Risk Afterschool ComponentCACFP Outside- School-Hours Care ComponentAfterschool Care Snack Service through the NSLPSummer Food Service Program
Program/Site Eligibility

At-risk afterschool care programs must:

  • Operate after school, on weekends, and/or holidays.
  • Meet state or local care licensing requirements, or local health and safety standards.
  • Provide regularly scheduled, organized activities that are educational or enriching (excluding organized athletic programs)
  • Be located in a school attendance area where at least 50% of enrolled children are certified eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

Outside-school-hours care programs must:

  • Provide regularly scheduled child care services.
  • Meet state or local child care licensing requirements, or local health and safety standards.
  • Be distinct from any organized extracurricular programs for scholastics or athletics.

NSLP afterschool care programs must:

  • Be sponsored or operated by a school district.
  • Be located in a jurisdiction where at least one school participates in NSLP.
  • Organized athletic programs in interscholastic or community level competitive sports are ineligible.

SFSP sites are eligible as Open, Enrolled, or Camps:

  • Open: located in a low-income area and eligible to serve free meals and snacks to all children in the community.
  • Enrolled: serve only those children enrolled in the program. If at least 50% of the children enrolled are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, then reimbursement will be provided for free meals and snacks served to all of the enrolled children.
  • Camps: only reimbursed for serving free meals and snacks to kids that are individually eligible for free and reduced-price meals.
Eligible ChildrenChildren age 18 or under (at start of school year).Children age 12 or younger.Children age 18 or under (at start of school year).Children age 18 and under; and young adults with disabilities enrolled in educational programs.
Eligible Meals and/or Snacks Per DayUp to 1 snack and 1 meal per child.Up to 2 meals and 1 snack per child.1 snack when served on regular school days only (afterschool programs operating during weekends or school breaks are not eligible to receive reimbursements through this program).Generally up to 2 meals or 1 meal and 1 snack per child, with some exceptions depending on site type.
How Reimbursement is ProvidedProgram providers receive the “free” rate reimbursement for every meal or snack served to participating children. All snacks and meals must be provided free to every child.Program providers receive the “free,” “reduced-price,” or “paid” rate for each meal or snack served to participating children depending on each child’s individual income.Program providers receive the “free” rate for all snacks served in school attendance areas where at least 50% of enrolled children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
Programs not located in eligible areas receive the “free,” “reduced-price,” or “paid” rate depending on each child’s family income.
Reimbursement varies depending on open, enrolled, or camp site designations.
Page updated: June 11, 2024