Hunger Free Vermont establishes and expands opportunities for children to eat nutritious snacks and meals after school hours and during the summer months.
Over 37,000 Vermont children depend on free or reduced-price school meals during the school year. When school cafeterias close in June, many of these children lose their most important source of balanced nutrition.
Summer can be a high-risk season for low-income children; studies indicate that disadvantaged children are more likely to gain weight and fall behind their peers academically during the summer months. By the time school opens again in the fall, many kids have fallen behind both nutritionally and developmentally.
Another high-risk time for low-income youth is during afterschool hours. According to the national Afterschool Alliance, the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime, and for experimentation with drugs and alcohol by youth. In addition, teens who do not participate in afterschool programs are three times more likely to skip classes than those who do participate. Afterschool nutrition programs provide an important anchor and revenue source for school or community-based afterschool programs. Unfortunately, Vermont’s current participation in federal afterschool nutrition programs is very low, and a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that over 40% of children in grades K-12 in Vermont are responsible for taking care of themselves during these afterschool hours.
Since 1993, our summer food outreach work has resulted in a 1,244% increase in the number of sites where Vermont children can be served summer meals (from 18 to 224), and our work has been recognized nationally as a model for program growth. However, there are still over 30,000 low-income children who would benefit from consistent and healthy meals during the summer months, but who either do not have access to, or do not participate in, these programs.
While the number of afterschool snacks served has increased each year, most recently a 30% increase in the 2011-2012 school year serving 460,276 snacks, the At-Risk Afterschool Meal Program is a newer program with more room for growth. Vermont was one of 10 states selected to launch this pilot program in April of 2010. Today nearly 1,000 students are served meals during afterschool programming.
Our Out-of-School Time Nutrition Outreach Program will continue to work with community partners to identify opportunities for program improvements and expansion, to ensure Vermont children have access to nutritious meals and snacks during the summer and afterschool programming.
RESOURCES FOR OUT-OF-SCHOOL TIME NUTRITION PROVIDERS
- List of Free ("Open") Summer Food Sites for Children in Vermont - 2014
- Learn more about summer meals programs
- Learn more about afterschool meals and snacks
Summer Food Program Webinar Series
The Department of Education and Hunger Free Vermont had a series of webinars in 2012, including:
The Summer Food Program: Innovative Ideas
This informal webinar will gave summer food providers a rare opportunity to connect with other providers throughout Vermont. Topics ranged from local food resources, transportation, and outreach strategies. You can listen to the webinar below: