Rensselaer County, NY
(formerly Troy Boys and Girls Club) began sponsoring CACFP in 1999, when they started serving afterschool snacks to 70-100 kids each day. Now, the Club prepares complete afterschool suppers, not only for youth in their programs, but for kids and teens in more than a dozen other afterschool programs in schools, community centers, and housing communities throughout the Capital Region.
The Club expanded afterschool nutrition service gradually, first introducing afterschool meals during their Friday programs to provide kids an added nutritional boost before the weekend. Chief Operations Officer Patrick Doyle explains, “We understood that some youth might not have an opportunity to eat a nutritious meal until the following Monday when they returned back to school.” After seeing positive outcomes from offering complete meals, they expanded to serve meals two days each week, then daily, and began looking for opportunities to reach more kids. Doyle explains, “We quickly realized the importance of providing youth with nutritious options and felt that we needed to do more.”
We are ensuring that 1,200 youth have nutritious meals every day. We don’t know what they have at home, but we can be sure that before they go home, they are fed.
— Patrick Doyle, CEO, Troy Boys and Girls Club
The Club used an innovative approach to expand access to afterschool meals in their community: they leveraged their capacity for meal preparation and delivery to become a food vendor for CACFP. This service allows neighboring afterschool programs that lack the capacity for menu planning and food preparation to partner with an experienced CACFP sponsor. To get started as a food vendor, the Club worked closely with NYS CACFP and Rensselaer County Department of Health to ensure their facilities and sample menus met all requirements and to learn the bidding and vending processes for CACFP.
Since securing their first contract for vended meals in 2014, the club’s food services program has grown steadily; they now prepare more than 1,200 meals each day. Boys and Girls Club staff pack the food in family style pans and deliver to program sites where the afterschool program staff are responsible for meal service and counts. The Club uses a monthly cycle menu designed around fresh, high-quality ingredients. Doyle says, “We want to create the highest quality menu because our youth deserve the best.”
The Club also sponsors the Summer Food Service Program to provide year-round nutrition. Encouraged by their success with CACFP, they have expanded their summer meals service to additional sites and hope to continue to grow in the coming years. Doyle sees nutrition programs as one of the most valuable services they offer. He explains, “We are ensuring that 1,200 youth have nutritious meals every day. We don’t know what they have at home, but can be sure that before they go home, they are fed.”