​​​Child Nutrition Programs > FAQs: At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program
What is the Summer Food Service Program?

Just as learning does not end when school lets out, neither does a child's need for good nutrition. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to help children in low-income areas get the nutrition they need to learn, play, and grow, throughout the summer months when they are out of school. 

Summer Food Service Program4/7/2017 1:15 PM
What is Farm to School/Farm to Preschool?

The term "Farm to School" encompasses efforts that bring local or regionally produced foods into cafeterias along with hands-on learning activities and the integration of food-related education into the regular, standards-based classroom curriculum. Farm to Preschool, the incorporation of these activities in early childcare and education settings, is a great way to introduce young children to where their food comes from, and help them develop lifelong healthy eating habits.


Farm to Preschool encompasses a variety of efforts that might include:

*Purchasing local and regional foods for reimbursable meals;

*Incorporating agricultural education programs into early childcare settings, such as Grow It, Try It, Like It, (http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/grow-it-try-it-it);

*Taste testing with locally-produced foods;

*Participating in a Harvest of the Month program;

*Starting and maintaining preschool gardens; and

*Taking field trips to local farmers markets and farms.

Farm to Preschool8/20/2015 9:39 AM
Which afterschool programs can participate?

USDA provides reimbursement for meals and snacks served in afterschool programs that:

*Are located at sites where at least half of the children in the school attendance area are eligible for free and reduced price school meals.

*Offer educational or enrichment activities, after the regular school day ends or on week-ends and holidays, during times of the year when school is in session.

*Meet licensing, health, or safety codes that are required by state or local law.

*Serve nutritionally balanced meals and snacks that meet USDA's nutrition standards, with foods like milk, meat, vegetables, fruit, and bread.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 9:56 AM
Who can apply to participate in the CACFP?

All of the following:

1. Child care centers or preschools

2. Adult daycare centers

3. Head Starts

4. Emergency shelters

5. At-risk afterschool snack programs or outside school hours programs

6. Daycare homes

Child and Adult Care Food Programs1/7/2019 3:27 PM
Why is SFSP important in your community?

You know that children who miss school breakfast and lunch are more likely to be sick, absent or tardy, disruptive in class, and inattentive. They also score lower on achievement tests. Good nutrition is essential for learning in school. SFSP provides an opportunity to continue a child's physical and social development while providing nutritious meals during long vacation periods from school. It helps children return to school ready to learn.

Summer Food Service Program8/20/2015 9:16 AM
How and where can CACFP institutions purchase local foods?

There are many ways in which institutions can incorporate local foods into their meals programs, including competitively purchasing directly from a producer, through a distributor or food service management company, or from food hubs, farmers’ markets, and gardens. See USDA’s Guide to Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs for a detailed description of each.

Farm to Preschool8/20/2015 9:40 AM
Who is eligible for afterschool meals?

​Reimbursable meals and snacks can be served to children, including teenagers age 18 or under at the start of the school year. There are no application forms for parents or guardians to fill out. All afterschool meals and snacks are served in group settings, at no cost to the child or to the child's parents or guardians.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 9:57 AM
How do you apply to participate in the CACFP?

1.  You must attend a one-day CNP Pre-Op Workshop.

2.  You can register online at: www.alsde.edu on CACFP/SFSP then click Workshop Information tab.

3.  Click on Prospective CACFP Sponsor Registration Form. Complete and submit.

3.  During training you will receive an application packet that must be submitted within 60 days of attending the training.

Child and Adult Care Food Programs1/7/2019 3:26 PM
How does the program operate?

The Food and Nutrition Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, administers SFSP at the Federal level. State education agencies administer the program in most States. In some areas, the State health or social service department or an FNS regional office may be designated. Locally, SFSP is run by approved sponsors, including school districts, local government agencies, camps, or private nonprofit organizations. Sponsors provide free meals to a group of children at a central site, such as a school or a community center. They receive payments from USDA, through their State agencies, for the meals they serve. 

Summer Food Service Program8/20/2015 9:17 AM
How are afterschool programs reimbursed?

CACFP provides cash payments and USDA foods. It gives afterschool programs a steady source of funds, and frees up resources that can be used for other activities. Reimbursement rates for meals are published annually in the Federal Register.

Eligible programs may choose cash instead of USDA foods. The value of USDA Foods provided per meal is also published annually in the Federal Register.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 9:58 AM
What are the benefits of CACFP?

​Institutions that participate in the CACFP receive reimbursement to enhance their current menus to offer more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy products. This increases the health and nutritional status of children and adults enrolled while enforcing good eating habits. The additional reimbursement also helps to keep the cost of tuition at more affordable levels.

Child and Adult Care Food Programs8/25/2015 11:14 AM
Where does the program operate?

States approve SFSP meal sites as open, enrolled, or camp sites. Open sites operate in low-income areas where at least half of the children come from families with incomes at or below 185 percent of the Federal poverty level, making them eligible for free and reduced-price school meals. Meals are served free to any child at the open site. Enrolled sites provide free meals to children enrolled in an activity program at the site where at least half of them are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. Camps may also participate in SFSP. They receive payments only for the meals served to children who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. 

Summer Food Service Program8/20/2015 9:18 AM
Why combine meals and activities after school?

When school is out and parents are still at work, children need a safe place to be with their friends, with structured activities, and supportive adults.

Afterschool programs that serve meals and snacks draw children and teenagers into constructive activities that are safe, fun, and filled with opportunities for learning. The food gives them the nutrition they need to learn and grow.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 9:59 AM
I already participate in the CACFP but I would like to add an additional site. How do I do this?

If the new site is not part of the same legal entity as the participating center, you must apply as if you are a new sponsor.

If the new site is part of the same legal entity as the participating center, you will need to do the following:

1. Provide program training to all the new staff.

2. Collect income eligibility forms for all children or adults enrolled in the new site.

3. Revise your current on-line application and management plan to include the new site(s) and submit the online applications to CNP.

4. Conduct a pre-approval visit at the new site(s) using the Child or Adult Care Center Monitoring Evaluation Form. Keep on file.

5. Complete the pre-inspection forms for each site you are adding and submit to CNP.

6. Submit a copy of each of  the new site's current DHS license

7. If vending, send each Food Service Agreements applicable to the type of contract.

Child and Adult Care Food Programs8/25/2015 11:13 AM
Who can sponsor SFSP?

Units of local government, camps, schools, and private nonprofit organizations can sponsor the SFSP. If your organization already provides services to the community, and has capable staff and good management practices to run a food service, you can sponsor the SFSP. As a sponsor, you will attend the State agency's training, locate eligible sites, hire, train and supervise staff, arrange for meals to be prepared and delivered, monitor sites and prepare claims for reimbursement.

Summer Food Service Program8/20/2015 9:19 AM
Can school-based programs provide CACFP meals?

​Yes, afterschool programs located in schools are eligible, as long as they meet CACFP requirements and are approved to participate.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:01 AM
What meals are reimbursable?

Institutions are reimbursed for two meals and a snack or two snacks and a meal per day per eligible participant.

Emergency shelters may be reimbursed for up to three meals per day per eligible child.

At-Risk Afterschool Programs may be reimbursed for one snack and one supper per day per eligible child.

Child and Adult Care Food Programs8/25/2015 11:14 AM
We're a small organization, what can we do?

Many organizations, particularly smaller ones, may want to consider operating a feeding site, such as a recreational or enrichment program. Many sponsors would welcome such an arrangement. If you supervise a site, you will attend your sponsor's training, supervise activities and the meal service, keep daily records of meals served, store food appropriately, and keep the site clean and sanitary. You should contact the State agency indicating your interest as a site, or find a local sponsor and make your own arrangements. 

Summer Food Service Program8/20/2015 9:23 AM
Are meals reimbursable during summer vacation?

CACFP is available to afterschool programs only during the school year when classes are in session. To provide meals in summer, ask your State Agency about USDA's Summer Food Service Program.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:01 AM
I am a daycare home provider. How can I apply to participate in the program?

Daycare home providers may participate under the auspices of a non-profit or public agency called a sponsoring organization.

These organizations are responsible for the training, monitoring, and implementation of the Program.

For a list of currently participating sponsoring organizations go to Requirements for Participation – go to www.alsde.edu

under Support Systems, click CNP-Child Nutrition Programs, then under Child and Adult Care Sponsor click on Family Day Care Homes.

Then click on Sponsor list or Existing Sponsors.

Child and Adult Care Food Programs8/25/2015 11:15 AM
Who is eligible to get meals?

Children 18 and younger may receive free meals and snacks through SFSP. Meals and snacks are also available to persons with disabilities, over age 18, who participate in school programs for people who are mentally or physically disabled. 

Summer Food Service Program8/20/2015 9:26 AM
I run an Afterschool Program that is not in an eligible area, but 50 percent of the children I serve receive free and reduced price school meals. Is my center eligible to participate in the Program?

​No. CACFP regulations require that, except for emergency shelters, At-Risk Afterschool Programs must be located in the attendance area of a public school (an elementary, middle, or high school) where at least 50 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced price meals under the NSLP.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:15 AM
Where can I find recordkeeping forms for CACFP?

All recordkeeping forms for child care centers are available at  www.alsde.edu  under Support Systems, click CNP-Child Nutrition Programs,

Then under Child and Adult Care Sponsor  all forms are under either the Existing Sponsors Tab or Potential Sponsor Tab.

Child and Adult Care Food Programs8/25/2015 11:10 AM
How many meals do partcipants receive each day?

At most sites, children receive either one or two reimbursable meals each day. Camps and sites that primarily serve migrant children may be approved to serve up to three meals to each child, each day.

Summer Food Service Program8/20/2015 9:26 AM
If area eligibility was determined by a school that closes, may census data be used instead?

​No. CACFP regulations require that, except for emergency shelters, At-Risk Afterschool Programs must be located in the attendance area of a public school (an elementary, middle, or high school) where at least 50 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced price meals under the NSLP. However, school data is valid for a period of five years, so, once a center qualifies based on school data, it would be eligible for the remainder of the five-year period even if the school closes during that period.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:13 AM
What are the meal pattern requirements?

Breakfast must include a milk component, a grain component, and a fruit or vegetable component.

Lunch/Supper must include a milk component, a grain component, a meat or meat alternate component, and a fruit and vegetable component from two different sources.

Snacks must include two of the following four components: milk, grain, meat or meal alternate, and fruit or vegetable.

Child and Adult Care Food Programs8/25/2015 11:17 AM
How much reimbursement does the governement provide?

SFSP reimbursements are now based on the number of reimbursable meals served multiplied by the combined operating and administrative rate for that meal.

Summer Food Service Program8/20/2015 9:28 AM
How is area eligibility determined for At-Risk Programs located in school districts that have elected the Community Eligibility Option (CEO)? Are all school buildings considered over 50 percent?

For the purposes of determining area eligibility for CACFP and SFSP, district-wide CEO determinations may not be used. CACFP and SFSP require area eligibility determinations to be made on the basis of individual schools (7 CFR 226.2 Definitions, 7 CFR 225.2 Definitions). Although an entire school district may elect CEO, there may be schools within the school district that fall below the 50 percent free and reduced price meals threshold required for CACFP.

As required by §210.9(b), SFAs must provide the NSLP State agency with a list of schools under its jurisdiction in which 50 percent or more of enrolled children have been determined eligible for free or reduced price meals as of the last operating day the preceding October. If a school district has elected CEO, the NSLP State agency is still required to provide individual school data to the CACFP State agency. Because the 1.6 multiplier is intended to provide an estimate of the total number of students eligible for free and reduced price meals in the eligible schools, the product of the identified student percentage multiplied by 1.6 is the percentage that will be used for area eligibility purposes for CACFP and SFSP (SP Memorandum 12-2012: Community Eligibility Option: Guidance and Procedures for Selection of States for School Year 2012-2013, February 2, 2012 and SP Memorandum 21-2014: Community Eligibility Provision: Guidance Q&As, February 25, 2014).

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:17 AM
How long has the SFSP been in existence?

SFSP was first created as part of a larger pilot program in 1968. It became a separate program in 1975.

Summer Food Service Program8/20/2015 9:31 AM
Do At-Risk sites have to choose which meal they will serve or can they serve different meals to different groups of children or on different days?

​At-Risk sites may serve up to one meal and one snack per child per day. This could be any meal and they may serve different meals on different days or to different groups of children. For example, a site could serve lunch and a snack to children who attend half-day kindergarten and then serve a snack and supper to older children who attend a full day of school.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:21 AM
How can I find a site in my community?

To find a meal service site near where you live, contact organizations in your community that are offering an activity program. Organizations offering activities for children are often local schools, community centers, recreation centers, and faith-based organizations. You may also call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE. If you are unable to find a site in your area, please contact your State agency and ask for the location of a meal service site in your community.

Summer Food Service Program8/20/2015 9:31 AM
Are there any restrictions on Afterschool Programs switching from CACFP At-Risk during the school year to the SFSP during the summer when school is not in session?

Generally, programs that participate in CACFP At-Risk during the school year would be eligible to continue to serve those children who are age 18 or under through SFSP during the summer when school is not in session, subject to approval of their SFSP application by the State agency.

However, a traditional child care center that also serves At-Risk Afterschool Meals and/or Snacks (i.e., the center has enrolled pre-school children in care during the day, but also serves At-Risk Afterschool Meals and/or Snacks to school-age children) must comply with FNS Instruction 782-4, rev. 3. This instruction states that traditional child care centers may only claim some or all of their meals under SFSP during the summer when there is a substantial change in Program activities or a significant increase in enrollment. Institutions approved to participate in both the CACFP and the SFSP must ensure that the same children are not served meals in both Programs, and separate records must be kept for each Program.

If a traditional child care center did not substantially change its activities or significantly increase its enrollment during the summer months, it could only receive reimbursement through SFSP for meals served to children who participate in the Afterschool Program during the school year. Such a center would receive free, reduced price, and paid reimbursement through CACFP for all other children enrolled for care (through the age of 12).

Per FNS Instruction 782-4, rev. 3, the determination to either approve the institution for participation in both the CACFP and SFSP or solely for the CACFP should be based on the institution's Program objectives

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:19 AM
What can I do if there are no nearby sites feeding children?

If there are no meal service sites in your area, you can mobilize your community to sponsor the program. In order for a site to exist in your community, a school, nonprofit organization or local government agency must be the program sponsor and be responsible for the administration of the program. To begin mobilizing your community, contact the following people and groups, and tell them there is an interest in the community to feed children in the summer. Contact: 

* The school principal

* Teachers

* The Parent Teachers Association

* The school food service manager

* School officials such as the school board or superintendent of schools 

*The Mayor's office

*Recreation and Parks Office

*County officials

*Elected officials

Summer Food Service Program8/20/2015 9:35 AM
What are the State administrative review requirements for At-Risk Afterschool institutions?

In CACFP, State agencies must comply with 7 CFR 226.6(m) in conducting reviews of those institutions that have agreements with the State agency to provide At-Risk Afterschool Meals or Snacks. According to these regulations, State agencies must annually review 33.3 percent of all CACFP institutions, including those operating At-Risk Afterschool Programs. At least fifteen percent of the required reviews must be unannounced. Additionally, the current regulations require that State agencies ensure that:

*Independent centers and sponsors of one to 100 facilities are reviewed at least once every three years; a review of such sponsors must include reviews of ten percent of the sponsors' facilities.

*Sponsors with more than 100 facilities must be reviewed at least every three years. These reviews must include reviews of five percent of the first 1,000 facilities and two and a half percent of the facilities in excess of 1,000.

*Reviews of newly participating sponsoring organizations with five or more child care facilities must be completed within the first 90 days of Program operations.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:23 AM
I want to help, what else can I do?

Volunteer! Our best SFSP sites have organized, well-run activities that keep the interest of the children and teens coming back to the site day after day. Some of these activities include arts and crafts, tutoring, mentoring, drama, sports, computer training, music, gardening, reading programs, cooking or any other creative ideas you may have. Many sites have enlisted local fire and police departments, local celebrities, local businesses and local political figures to make presentations to their SFSP sites. The only limitation is your imagination. 

Summer Food Service Program8/20/2015 9:21 AM
If the Afterschool Meal is served by the school, can the different afterschool clubs at the school eat separately?

​Yes, it is permissible for the different clubs and groups that make up the school's Afterschool Program to eat in different locations on the school grounds. For example, the band members may eat the meal in the band room with just the band members while the football team eats outside.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:26 AM
Must institutions participating in multiple Child Nutrition Programs (for example, NSLP, CACFP, and SFSP) keep their food inventories separate?

​There is no Federal requirement that food inventories used for the various Child Nutrition Programs be stored separately. However, accurate records must be maintained for the individual programs, including allocation of food costs between multiple programs.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:33 AM
How do I demonstrate that I am serving an unserved population?

​Institutions must demonstrate in the management plan that their participation will help ensure benefits to otherwise unserved facilities or participants. States establish their own criteria for determining if an applicant's participation will benefit unserved facilities or participants.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:36 AM
Can an At-Risk Afterschool Program charge “tuition,” similar to a traditional child care center?

Similar to non-pricing child care centers, there may be a fee for the care provided or a "tuition" charge, but there can be no separate charge for the food service. Although the regulations do not specifically prohibit or specifically authorize tuition charges, should the State agency encounter a situation where a substantial participation fee is being charged that might adversely affect the ability of needy children to participate, the State agency will consult with their Regional Office prior to approving participation.

Because agreements between States and sponsors are permanent, is it necessary to provide free and reduced price school data in subsequent years of operating the Program?

Yes. Sponsors must still verify eligibility of centers and area eligibility determinations remain valid for five years. "Permanent" is intended solely to convey that the agreement has no predetermined expiration date and does not need to be renewed.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:36 AM
May USDA Foods be used in snacks?

​Yes. Afterschool Programs may use USDA Foods in their Afterschool Snack and/or Meal service. Please note, however, that the school or organization will not earn additional entitlement foods as a result of serving Afterschool Snacks. The amount of entitlement foods earned will continue to be based solely upon the number of lunches or suppers served to children.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 1:59 PM
For a school or organization that is already participating in CACFP and now wants to provide At-Risk Afterschool Meals and/or Snacks, does its agreement with the State agency need to be amended?

​Yes. Once the State agency approves an institution's application to provide at-Risk Afterschool Meals and/or Snacks, the agreement with the State agency needs to be amended to reflect this additional meal service and its requirements. This can be accomplished by signing a simple addendum to the CACFP or NSLP agreement.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 1:59 PM
Are Afterschool Programs permitted to serve two snacks instead of one meal and one snack?

The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act clearly states that institutions participating in the At-Risk Afterschool Meals component of CACFP may be reimbursed for only one meal and one snack. However, because serving an additional snack in lieu of a meal would not exceed the maximum meal benefit allowed by law and therefore would not increase cost to the Program, State agencies are authorized to waive this requirement on a case-by-case basis and allow institutions to serve two snacks instead of one meal and one snack. This will allow State agencies to provide additional flexibility to institutions that may not have the capacity to serve a full meal. We strongly encourage institutions to provide a full meal whenever possible in order to meet the nutritional needs of the children served.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 2:02 PM
Can a school system participating in both the SBP and NSLP and the At-Risk component of the CACFP receive reimbursement under CACFP for a meal and snack served to children who also received breakfast and lunch under the SBP and NSLP?

​Yes. Based on the nature of the At-Risk Afterschool Meals component of CACFP, the expectation is that most of the participating children attend school and receive free and reduced price meals. With that in mind, schools that serve children meals through NSLP are eligible for reimbursement for a meal and a snack served to children in an at-risk afterschool program through CACFP. However, schools may not serve children an afterschool snack through NSLP and then serve those same children an additional snack through CACFP.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 2:04 PM
How does a child care center that uses claiming percentages or blended rates claim free meals and/or snacks for its At-Risk Afterschool Meals component in CACFP?

All organizations participating in the At-Risk Afterschool Meals component of CACFP must submit separate meal counts for the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program. This includes child care centers that are currently participating in CACFP and using claiming percentages or blended rates. State agencies are responsible for amending their reimbursement forms and payment systems to recognize a separate entry for At-Risk Afterschool Meals and Snacks.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 2:05 PM
Are point-of-service meal counts and production records required?

Meal counts taken at the point of service and production records are not required for Afterschool Meal and Snack service, though individual State agencies may require them. However, accurate daily meal count records based on daily attendance rosters or sign-in sheets must be maintained. Documentation of compliance with the meal pattern and records of all purchases including food are required under CACFP.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 2:00 PM
Because production records are not a Federal requirement, can a State that requires production records enforce the requirement with fiscal action?

Yes. The Federal regulations require institutions to maintain any records required by the State agency [7 CFR 226.15(e)]. Therefore, additional record requirements established by the State agency, including production records, are enforceable with fiscal action by the State agency.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 2:00 PM
An At-Risk Afterschool Care Program operates during the week and on weekends. Do the weekday and weekend meal service times need to be the same?

​No. Meals and snacks served through CACFP on weekends or holidays may be served at any time of day approved by the State.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 2:03 PM
Where can you get more information?

​The at-risk afterschool component of CACFP is administered by states. To learn more, contact your CACFP State Agency.

At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program8/20/2015 10:13 AM
There are no items to show in this view of the "Page Description" list.