Dec 13

How afterschool can support school meals: 3 activities

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, director of Community Partnerships at Alliance for a Healthier Generation.This article was original published on December 5, 2017 on the Healthy Out-of-School Time New & Notable blog.

Partnerships between school and afterschool educators are essential to ensure our community health efforts are sustained.

On November 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a new School Meal Flexibility Rule that will weaken nutrition standards aimed at reducing sodium and increasing whole grains for meals provided under the USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

Afterschool programs that voluntarily adopted the National AfterSchool Association Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity have the potential to be impacted by any weakening of school nutrition standards. In particular, if their school oversees the afterschool snack and meal program.

Below are three ways afterschool leaders can share their voice for healthy school meals while championing the power of afterschool.

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper

Shout your hard work creating healthy afterschool from the rooftop! Share the story of how your program is bringing the National AfterSchool Association Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity to life.

Writing and submitting a letter is simpler than you think! Check out Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor.

Submit a comment on the flexibility rule

As someone who works directly with children and families, you voice is important. Share your feedback and questions with the USDA by January 29, 2018 using the online comment form. Five minutes is all it takes to share your essential perspective!

Encourage families to go on a #CafeteriaDate

In addition to these three tips, encourage families to schedule a time to go on a “cafeteria date” with their child. Want to learn more about this campaign and why building a relationship with your school lunchroom is so important? Visit and share your experience by using the hashtag #cafeteriadate.