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District pilots “Super Snack” initiative to help fill the hunger gap and provide nutritious meal options after school

Students lining up for snacks  Students eating snacks

 

UPDATE: Friday, April 19, 2019

While we were excited and prepared to launch the Super Snack pilot program in May, we unfortunately need to postpone implementation of the after school meal program until fall 2019. South St. Paul Public Schools will continue to offer a la carte options after school this spring, and we are excited to bring back our summer food program to help address hunger issues after the school year ends in June. Be looking for more details on the Super Snack program later this summer as we roll it out for the 2019-20 school year.

 


Thursday, April 11, 2019 — ”We know, that for many of our families in SSP that qualify for free and reduced-priced meals, breakfast and lunch at school are the only predictable daily, nutritious meals children may regularly have access to,” said Connie Garling-Squire, district director of equity and early learning. “When basic survival needs are not met, food security concerns can be extremely traumatic for a family and can feel like an insurmountable barrier to allowing school and learning to be the most important thing in a child’s life.”

To help address this concern, South St. Paul Public Schools (SSPPS) is looking to pilot a “Super Snack” program starting in May. Open after school at the Secondary School building from 2:30-4:30 p.m., all SSPPS children up to age 18 will be able to come into the cafeteria and pick up a Super Snack, which could include nutritious foods such as cold sandwiches, cheese and crackers, yogurt, fruit and vegetables.

“The Super Snack option goes beyond what one might typically see in our a la carte menu or what kids can buy from a vending machine,” said Director of Nutrition Services Glen Ritter. “By offering more substantive afterschool snack options, we are able to give our students the nutrition and fuel they need to carry them through afterschool activities and into the evening.”

The district’s food service program currently provides healthy breakfasts and lunches that help fill the hunger gap in a community like South St. Paul in which over half of the district’s students and families qualify for free and reduced-priced meals. In addition, SSPPS has partnered with local community groups for years in providing extra food in student’s backpacks on weekends and school breaks. And an ongoing partnership with Second Harvest Heartland offers monthly food distributions to help stretch a family’s food dollars throughout the month.

“But we know that for some of our students coming to school on a Monday morning, the last meal they may have had was lunch at school the Friday before,” Garling-Squire said. “If a child is hungry, they cannot learn.”

This is where the Super Snack program comes in. SSPPS is eligible for federal funding to reimburse the costs for afterschool food programs. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the National School Lunch Program provide funding to afterschool programs operating in a low-income area to serve meals and snacks to children 18 and under after school, on weekends, and during school holidays. As such, the SSP Super Snack program is available at no cost to the district. District leaders also note that the district’s Nutrition Services Department has the capacity to support the program with staffing, planning and programming, and the district’s maintenance team has the ability to support and clean the facilities used for the program as part of the normal workday.

“It just makes sense to take advantage of this opportunity to help feed our children and ensure they have the nutrients they need to be active and engaged both at school and at home,” said Garling-Squire. “It is a way our district can help eliminate barriers to learning, including hunger, so that our students can thrive and be successful.”  

The SSP Super Snack program will be piloted this spring during May and June, after which the district will evaluate its effectiveness and assess the viability of expanding the program to other sites during the 2019-20 school year. The district will be sharing more details later as the pilot program is finalized.


For more information about the SSPPS Nutrition Services Program, visit
www.sspps.org/nutritionservices.  

For more information about how The Child and Adult Care Food Program and the National School Lunch Program make it possible for afterschool programs to serve healthy meals and snacks, visit: