Florida Impact has been awarded a $40,000 grant to support its plan to increase afterschool meals for children in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.
The grant from Health Foundation of South Florida will enable Florida Impact to provide education and advocacy directed to elected and governmental officials about Florida’s Afterschool Meals Program with the ultimate goal to increase the number of sponsors, sites and hungry children benefiting from the federally sponsored USDA program.
“Every summer for several years in Florida, more and more hungry children have gotten a nutritious meal every day through the federally supported Summer BreakSpot program,” Florida Impact CEO Trudy Novicki said. “We believe with some administrative changes in Florida, more community locations can provide children in need with afterschool meals during the year.”
The big hurdle that Florida Impact will tackle with this grant is the childcare licensing requirement for sites wanting to serve afterschool meals. This onerous rule isn’t the case for the summer food program; thus, more providers are able to provide more kids with nutritious meals during the summer. The sites get reimbursed for the food through the federal Afterschool Meals Program.
Florida Impact will call the attention of Florida legislators to this issue, and provide education and advocacy for the 2018 Florida Legislative Session, which begins in January. If the program were to move under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, instead of under the Department of Health where it currently resides, this problem would be resolved. The work of providers would be simplified, and they would serve hungry children all year round.
To illustrate the potential gains, currently in four major metro areas of Florida, only 13%, or 64,000 of the 509,000 kids who are receiving a free or reduced price lunch are also receiving a free afterschool supper. An increase to 30% participation would add nearly 90,000 more children routinely receiving an evening meal. Smaller cities and rural parts of Florida would benefit even more from a simplified process, as their current afterschool meal participation is even lower than in the big cities.
Florida Impact will conduct rigorous outreach at both the state and local levels to ensure that federal child nutrition and meal programs are fully accessible to those for whom they are intended. The organization will inform and organize the direct involvement of community leaders in policy and program advocacy.
“This project seeks to ensure Florida children don’t go hungry. If successful, our state will be tapping into millions of unused federal food and nutrition dollars,” Novicki said. “Last year we estimated that more than $129 million in federal nutrition funding available for children was left unused in Florida last year. That’s a lot of children left hungry who should not have been.”
Learn more about the program at www.FloridaAfterschoolMeals.org!