Making the Most of Out-of-School Time

Healthy Environments for All On-Campus Activities

What happens on school grounds—before, during and after school—can have a big impact on a child’s health and learning. Out-of-School Time programs are any before-school and after-school programs held on a school campus or facility. These offerings can be academic, specialty (focusing on academic, athletic or artistic enrichment), or a multipurpose program that provides a variety of activities like the Boys & Girls Club or YMCA.

Any time a child is on campus, it is important to ensure a healthy school environment. This includes providing nutritious and appealing foods and beverages, consistent and accurate messages about nutrition, and ways to practice healthy eating and physical activity. Afterschool and summer learning programs are well positioned to be key partners in a comprehensive effort to help children grow up healthy.

Connecting Schools with Out-of-School Time Programs

Coordination between schools and Out-of-School Time program staff and leaders allows for collaboration on positive nutrition messaging and physical activity opportunities on school grounds. School districts can enhance connection with Out-of-School Time staff by:

  • Inviting program leaders to join the School Health Advisory Councils at both the school and district level, providing them an opportunity to help shape wellness initiatives and support their implementation for a holistic approach to creating a school culture of wellness. 
  • Sharing their local wellness policies so program leaders and staff can see how the district addresses physical activity and nutrition before or after school.

School wellness committees can use the School Health Index to guide planning efforts related to school health programming, policies and messaging on school grounds—before, during and after school. As representatives of the broader school community, Out-of-School Time program staff should be engaged in completing assessments and developing action plans as part of the school wellness committee.

Providing Nutritious Meals and Snacks

All Out-of-School Time programs should follow the nutrition standards provided by federal child nutrition programs, which align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Programs can participate in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Afterschool Meal Program and Summer Food Service Program to improve children’s diet quality and food security, which supports their physical and mental health as well as their ability to learn.

Check out the Summer Food Service Program in action in Louisiana at Louisiana Fit Kids!

By meeting the nutrition standards for USDA Smart Snacks in School, Out-of-School Time program staff can confidently provide healthy snacks for children, even without participating in federal child nutrition programs.

For a listing of foods and beverages meeting the USDA recommended criteria for Smart Snacks in School, visit Louisiana Fit Kids!

Get Kids Moving

Physical activity can improve concentration and memory. Before-school and after-school programs, as well as physical activity clubs and sports teams, are key components of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program. Having a comprehensive physical activity program helps schools ensure they are using Out-of-School Time to promote physical wellness and are encouraging students to identify activities they enjoy and might engage in long-term.

Spotlight: Raintree Preparatory Academy

Raintree Preparatory Academy is an excellent example of incorporating physical activity before school which increased test scores, improved grades, increased school attendance and improved classroom behavior.

Meet the Standard for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Programs

Leaders of Out-of-School Time programs have access to standards on healthy eating and physical activity provided by The National AfterSchool Association (NAA). Programs can use the Self-Assessment Tool to assess their progress in meeting the standards, plan for improvement and identify professional development needs.