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Friday, April 12, 2024

ACPS expands afterschool meals program to Metcalfe Elementary School

Thirty-seventh location to open Sept. 5

<p>A sign in front of the Alachua County Public Schools district office building is seen Sunday, June 6, 2021.</p>

A sign in front of the Alachua County Public Schools district office building is seen Sunday, June 6, 2021.

Metcalfe Elementary School will become the 37th site to offer free meals to students on campus after school beginning Sept. 5.

The After School Meal Program, or supper program, feeds students during after-school activities, said Caron Rowe, Food and Nutrition Services Supervisor. Some students have lunch as early as 9:30 a.m., she said, so they tend to be hungry by the end of the day.

“We know that kids that are there for a long period of time tend to get a little hungry,” she said. “So it's kind of an elevated snack. It gives them something to keep their bellies full until they get home.”

The supper program served 340,872 students during the 2022-2023 school year, Rowe said.

“It's really great to know that we're filling a need for the students,” she said.

Metcalfe is reopening its in-house afternoon programs, including Extended Day Enrichment, which were previously held at Marjorie K. Rawlings Elementary School. As a result, the school now qualifies for the supper program.

Foods on the supper menu, which has both cold and hot meal options, include muffin platters, fresh vegetables, pizza and chicken tenders.

“​​I know the football players love it because we get the peanut butter and jelly packs for them, and it gives them the protein that they need,” Rowe said. “So it's a win-win all the way around.”

The Afterschool Meals Program is funded by the Child Care Food Program, which subsidizes the costs of meals for Florida public schools through the USDA.

For Beth Kavanagh, Cafeteria Manager at Oak View Middle School, the supper program is special because it may be the students’ last meal of the day, particularly if they don’t have the means to eat at home.

“Supplying them with this food is such a gratifying position,” she said. “It just kind of puts things into perspective.”

At Oak View, supper meals are pre-packaged by cafeteria staff and distributed by after-school counselors, Kavanagh said. During the day, hot meals are kept under a warmer, and cold meals are kept in the refrigerator.

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Pizza, chicken sandwiches and muffin platters are among the students’ favorites, Kavanagh said.

“Sometimes kids have a hard time, you know, saying exactly what they want to say, but when they give me a thumbs up or a big old smile, that’s what makes it for me,” she said.

Contact Alissa at Follow her on Twitter @Alissagary1.

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Alissa Gary

Alissa is a sophomore journalism major and University Editor at The Alligator. She has previously covered student government, university administration and K-12 education. In her free time, she enjoys showing photos of her cats to strangers.

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