Child Nutrition Programs

732,300 New York State children are food insecure, meaning they lack constant and safe access to the nutritious foods they need. Being food insecure can hurt a child’s health, ability to learn, and well-being.

Hunger Solutions New York provides resources to help ensure New York children have enough to eat every day. We also help community-based organizations to establish, or enhance, participation in federally funded child nutrition programs.

Hunger Solutions New York helps schools and organizations:

  • See if they are able to participate in federally funded child nutrition programs
  • Understand program requirements
  • Connect with existing program sponsors
  • Apply to participate in federally funded child nutrition programs

Learn more about the federally funded child nutrition programs below.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The largest child nutrition program in New York State, SNAP (once known as Food Stamps) provides a nutritional safety net to children in low-income families. Monthly SNAP benefits are deposited in participants’ accounts. Using a special debit card, participants can buy groceries at stores and farmers’ markets that accept SNAP. SNAP benefits are available to those who meet eligibility and application requirements. Schools’ eligibility to adopt the Community Eligibility Provision is related, in part, to SNAP participation among students.

Our Nutrition Outreach and Education Program offers free, confidential services to connect families with SNAP and other nutrition assistance programs.

School Meals

The National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs are federally-funded meal programs for students in public schools, nonprofit private schools, and residential child-care institutions. The programs require schools to offer meals at free and reduced-price rates and to meet federal nutrition requirements. These programs play a critical role in reducing hunger, improving health and bolstering student success. Hunger is an obstacle to learning. Neither the best curriculum nor the most outstanding teachers can overcome the hurdle hunger poses. Hunger Solutions New York provides schools and community-based organizations with tools and resources to help feed children while they are in school, including reports, county- and district-level data, outreach materials, and individualized assistance.

School Breakfast: Most times school breakfast is served in the cafeteria before the school day begins. It often has low participation due to factors ranging from tight schedules to concerns about stigma. Hunger Solutions New York helps schools serve breakfast during the school day via alternative breakfast models—like breakfast in the classroom and grab and go breakfast. These models of breakfast service are the most effective means to increase participation and achieve the gains in academic success linked to school breakfast consumption.

School Lunch: The National School Lunch Program—the nation’s second largest food and nutrition assistance program behind SNAP—makes it possible for all school children in New York State to receive a nutritious lunch every school day. Hunger Solutions New York works to increase access to school lunch, especially for children from low income households.

Community Eligibility Provision (CEP): CEP allows schools with large numbers of low-income children to provide breakfast and lunch free to all students, ensuring that they are well nourished and able to learn throughout the day. CEP benefits schools, students and families—CEP simplifies administrative processes, reduces labor costs, improves efficiency of the school meal programs, and increases student participation.

Summer Meals

Summer Food Service Program provides free meals and snacks to children ages 18 and under when school meals and afterschool meals are not available. Meal sites, found in communities with a majority of low-income children are at places where children gather when school is out, such as libraries and recreation sites. Meal sites may serve breakfast, lunch, supper, a snack, or a combination of meals.

Childcare centers and homes

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) offers reimbursement to certain licensed or approved childcare centers and homes, afterschool programs and emergency shelters, to provide nutritious meals and snacks to children. For-profit centers that serve lower-income children may also be eligible. CACFP reimbursement rates target benefits to infants, children and teens who are most in need.

Afterschool meals

Afterschool Meals – CACFP’s afterschool snack/meals option provides funding for nutritious meals and snacks to qualifying enrichment programs located in the enrollment area of schools with a majority of low-income students. Meals and snacks may be served after the regular school day ends, on weekends and over school-year holidays.

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

WIC provides pregnant women, new and breastfeeding moms, and children under age 5 with healthy food, breastfeeding support, nutrition advice, and referrals to other services. Dads, grandparents, and caregivers can also apply for children in their care.

WIC provides monthly food benefits that can be redeemed at approximately 3,000 authorized retail food vendors across the state. WIC benefits are now given on an eWIC card, which replaces WIC checks with an EBT card that works like a debit card. This improvement makes shopping with WIC benefits easier. 

Our WIC Help NY program provides one on one services to help you learn if you may be eligible for WIC, and help set up and prepare for your first appointment at a WIC clinic near you. It is free and confidential.