Fighting Child Hunger
5 Ways to Increase Access to Food for School-Aged Children
- Making breakfast part of the school day so children do not have to arrive early to eat.
Research shows that eating school breakfast can improve student food security and children’s overall health and wellness. Breakfast After the Bell (BATB) provides an opportunity for all students to eat breakfast after the official start of the school day. BATB ensures all students have the opportunity to start their school day nourished and ready to learn regardless of their income or morning circumstances. Learn more!
- Offer free school meals for all students to reduce stigma and increase opportunities for participation.
There are several ways to offer meals at no-charge for students in order to increase school breakfast and lunch participation and remove barriers for low-income students to access the nourishment that they need. Many children struggle with food insecurity even though their parents’ or caregivers’ income may not qualify for other types of assistance. Universal free meals through the Community Eligibility (CEP) or Provision 2 allows participating schools to offer no-cost meals to all students, ensuring that children are nourished and ready to learn regardless of parent income, free and reduced application status, or student account balances.
- Provide afterschool meals to students in higher-risk areas to ensure they are getting three meals a day during the school year.
The Child and Adult Care Food Program or CACFP At-risk provides federal funding to afterschool programs operating in school service areas with 50% or greater free and reduced lunch rates. This allows programs in lower-income areas to serve no-cost meals and snacks to children and teens ages 18 and under afterschool, on weekends, and during school holidays. If you know of an afterschool program that might benefit, contact HFO.
- Offer summer meals to ensure that students and their siblings have access to nutritious food when school is out.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) allows organizations and youth programs in high-need areas* to regularly provide up to two no-cost meals each day to all children and teens ages 18 and under all summer.HFO offers application assistance, sponsor convening, introductions between sites and potential sponsors, and dissemination of best practices to help expand the number of sites across Oklahoma. To see site locations, visit Meals4KidsOK.org.*Sites must be located in a school service area with 50% or higher free and reduced school meal rates.
- Connect students and caregivers to grocery assistance programs like SNAP, Double Up Oklahoma, and WIC.
Increasing access to programs that stretch food budgets is an important piece of addressing hunger in Oklahoma.