This week, No Kid Hungry announced its first-ever cohort of Afterschool Meals Champions, individuals from across the country who are doing phenomenal work to make sure kids are getting the nutrition they need after school. The twelve champions represent the wide array of people and organizations providing meals through the CACFP Afterschool Meals Program – from schools to food banks, faith-based organizations, YMCAs, tribal organizations and more.
Christina Alley, Senior Program Manager at the Houston Food Bank, was one of only twelve across the country selected through a competitive application process. Christina has worked hard to expand access to afterschool meals for kids across the 18 counties in their service area in Harris County, and she has increased the food bank’s capacity to sponsor more sites through implementation of new technology. They were able to provide 20 percent more afterschool meals as compared to last year, and the new system had the added benefit of reducing food waste. She has also built strong relationships in the community by collaborating with groups like the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time and Out to Learn as well as individual apartment complexes, libraries and other organizations that provide afterschool care. As an Afterschool Champion, Christina will work closely with No Kid Hungry to expand access to afterschool meals in Texas and across the country.
For a lot of kids in the United States, food isn’t always available when they get home in the evening. For some, school lunch may be the last complete meal they eat before returning to school the next day. Afterschool meal programs provide not just nutrition, but also the sense of security that comes with being able to count on an evening meal every day.
In addition to a supper or snack, afterschool meal programs include enrichment activities, providing kids with a safe place to go in the afternoon when parents may not be home. And this impacts kids – Research shows that attendance and graduation rates go up when students participate in afterschool programs, and offering meals encourages kids to participate in these valuable activities.
No Kid Hungry honored a second Texan in their 2019 School Afterschool Meals Hall of Fame. Miranda Rhodes, Supervisor of School Nutrition at Temple ISD, was recognized for her work to expand after school meals in her community and beyond.
Please join us in congratulating Christina and Miranda! We’re proud of their contribution to ending childhood hunger in the Lone Star State.
Mia Medina, Program Associate, No Kid Hungry Texas