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Free Super Snack afterschool meal program helps fill the hunger gap for South St. Paul students
Friday, Sept. 6, 2019 — It started as a pilot last spring, but with the start of the 2019-20 school year, the Super Snack program is now available to all children and students in South St. Paul Public Schools (SSPPS). The free afterschool meal program runs Monday through Friday at the Secondary School building from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Before heading off to their afterschool activities or home for the day, students are able to stop by the cafeteria where they will receive a healthy snack, which could include nutritious foods such as cold sandwiches, cheese and crackers, yogurt, fruit and vegetables.
“In just three days we tripled our numbers of students grabbing a Super Snack,” said Dorie Pavel, assistant director of nutrition services. “It is great to see that the word is getting out about the program and that the students are responding so positively.”
Funded by the USDA, the After School Super Snack program is a federal child nutrition program designed to provide kids and teens ages 18 and under with free, healthy snacks when the school day ends. The program is free and open to all children ages 1-18. There are no income guidelines or registration required.
The district hopes to expand the program later this fall by preparing meals at the Secondary that will then be transported to Kaposia Elementary so that students on the south side of town have easier access. “We understand that because of location, Lincoln Center is more easily able to access the Super Snacks than their peers at Kaposia,” said Connie Garling-Squire, director of early learning and equity. “To help provide equitable access, we are working through the logistics of preparing, delivering and distributing the Super Snacks for students after school at Kaposia as well.”
For SSPPS, the new Super Snack program is another meal option in its suite of healthy food options working to fight the hunger gap. Currently, the district’s nutrition services program provides free breakfasts to all students, and over half of SSPPS students and families qualify for free and reduced-priced lunches. Additionally, for many years SSPPS has partnered with local community groups in providing extra food in student’s backpacks on weekends and school breaks. And an ongoing partnership with Neighbors, Inc., offers monthly food distributions to help stretch a family’s food dollars throughout the month.
”We know that for many of our families, school breakfast and lunch are the only predictable nutritious meals children may regularly have access to,” said Garling-Squire. “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. As a district, we are committed to doing what we can to help address this barrier so that our students are able to better focus on learning and engaging in school.”
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:
- After School Meal Program Fact Sheet (Food Research and Action Center)
- After School Meals Programs: How They Work (No Kid Hungry/Center for Best Practices)