BALTIMORE (March 24, 2009)—Maryland children will now have access to a nutritious supper through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The 2009 federal Omnibus Appropriations Act expanded the at-risk afterschool supper program to include Maryland as one of only 10 states to participate.
The Maryland State Department of Education's (MSDE) School and Community Nutrition Programs Branch will administer the new supper program. "We know students learn better with proper nutrition, and for many Maryland children this program could be play an important role in their intellectual development," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick.
The at-risk afterschool supper program will provide the highest rate of reimbursement to programs that offer suppers to children. The suppers fill a much-needed gap in nutrition that occurs in low-income areas; a gap where some children's last full meal of the day is school lunch. Now, those children can have an additional meal, which meets set nutrition guidelines, during the week and on weekends and holidays.
Schools and child care centers are eligible, under CACFP, to participate if they are located in an attendance area of a school in which at least 50 percent of enrolled children are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals. As of October 30, 2008, 35 percent of Maryland's public school enrollment was eligible for free or reduced-priced meals and that number is increasing with the economic downturn.
The at-risk afterschool supper program supports the link between learning and nutrition. All centers and schools that participate in the program must include an educational component in their programming. In states where the program has already been established, the at-risk afterschool supper program has been shown to increase participation in afterschool learning activities.
The CACFP plays an important role in establishing healthy eating and physical activity habits that last a lifetime. The CACFP is a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded nutrition education and reimbursement program for licensed child care centers, family child care homes, and afterschool centers.
Afterschool providers interested in the opportunity to participate in the at-risk afterschool meals components of the CACFP should contact MSDE at 410-767-0214. For information about CACFP, visit http://www.eatsmartmaryland.org/ .
Source: Maryland State Department of Education's (MSDE)