Research shows federal child nutrition programs play a key role in alleviating hardship for families; they reduce food insecurity and poverty, safeguard community health, and provide stimulus for local economies. Beyond reducing hunger, these programs, including meals at school, support learning, positive student development and behavior, and greater equity in schools.
As we wrap up 2022 and look ahead to 2023, your support for strong school meal programs is essential. Key actions include:
1. Increase program access and participation:
The new year unlocks fresh opportunities to advance your school meal program. School breakfast and afterschool meals are proven strategies for expanding access to nutrition while generating additional revenue. Learn how to leverage these important programs to sustain and strengthen your school meal operations this year.
- Build Resilient Programming with Breakfast After the Bell (BAB): Traditional breakfast—served in the cafeteria before the school day begins—often has low participation due to factors ranging from tight schedules to concerns about stigma. Breakfast After the Bell (BAB) – where breakfast is served after the start of the school day – can address barriers to make the morning meal more accessible. We can support school districts with getting started with BAB or expanding their existing programming:
- Use this infographic to show your school community how breakfast sets students on a trajectory toward success.
- This BAB factsheet can help you choose which BAB model is right for your school.
- This Pre-Implementation Checklist offers a list of action steps to get BAB started.
- We can help you learn more and offer individualized support with your program, at no cost.
- Provide three meals a day to fuel afterschool learning: With many schools planning to start or expand afterschool programs this year, it’s a great time to consider serving afterschool meals. Eligible schools can receive reimbursement – currently $4.03/meal or $1.18/snack – through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). While many schools already serve afterschool snacks through the national school lunch program (NSLP), CACFP provides an opportunity to serve complete meals, providing greater nutrition for students and a higher reimbursement for schools. Schools can apply at any time of year, even if programs are already underway. We can help you learn more and get started.
- Help families in your school community access SNAP and WIC: As trusted messengers, schools can share information about SNAP and WIC to help ensure students and their families have consistent access to healthy food. Schools also benefit: increased SNAP participation can improve a school’s ability to adopt CEP, and WIC can support kindergarten readiness for your youngest learners.
- Use this SNAP Outreach for Schools Toolkit.
- Visit the WIC Help NY Resource Center to share information with families in your district.
- Apply for grant funds through the No Kid Hungry New York SNAP in Schools Opportunity, which will provide funding to community organizations and schools to maximize SNAP enrollment and participation to ensure children and families have access to healthy meals at school and at home during the school year and/or summer months. Applications are due on December 20, 2022.
- Look ahead to summer 2023: As we ring in 2023, look ahead to the summer season and help to ensure kids have access to healthy meals when school isn’t in session. Eligible schools can serve as summer meal sponsors or meal sites, and all schools can help with outreach at the end of the school year and all summer long, so families know where to find meals near them. Visit SummerMealsNY.org to learn more and access free, easy-to-use outreach resources.
2. Get support to keep school meal operations smooth this spring
After two years, school meal applications and conducting direct certification returned this fall. To keep up with best practices in the second half of the school year, review our top resources here:
- Effectively communicate with families with our School Meals Application Toolkit: Hunger Solutions New York and No Kid Hungry New York designed a toolkit to help school districts get the word out to families about the importance of submitting a free and reduced-price (F/RP) applications for the 2022-2023. This toolkit also has resources for Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools who will continue to offer free meals for all in the upcoming school year, but are still required to collect these forms for purposes beyond school meals. Watch our short tour of resources to learn more.
- Strengthen your direct certification practices: With the return to standard F/RP school meal applications and changing demographics, direct certification can reduce the administrative burden on both schools and families by cutting down the number of F/RP applications to collect and process. For CEP schools, direct certification is vital to sustaining program success. Schools seeking to adopt CEP in the 2023-2024 school year can also get ahead by using direct certification to increase their Identified Student Percentage (ISP). Upgrade your direct certification strategies with our tipsheet.
3. Tell state lawmakers to guarantee healthy school meals for all!
As the budget season quickly approaches, it is more important than ever for Governor Hochul and other key leaders to hear directly from communities across the state about the critical need for Healthy School Meals for All NY Kids. Join us in calling on Governor Hochul to make New York a leader in ending childhood hunger in schools by funding universal free school meals in the State budget. Funding healthy school meals for all in the FY2024 state budget is a concrete, evidence-based step to reduce child hunger and advance equity in health and education in nearly every community across the state.
A new click-to-action tool makes it easy to send a direct message to state lawmakers urging them to fund free, healthy meals for all New York students.
- Use the tool to send a message with just one click
- Share the click-to-action with your broader school community using this sample email copy.
- Interested in additional advocacy opportunities? Sign-up for emails to stay engaged.
4. Connect with our team of experts for individualized assistance
Need support to re-energize your programming in the new year? Reach out to our team of experts for a tailored plan that’s right for your school! For more information, please contact:
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