Just like the song says, “School’s out for summer!” For some of you the school year has already wrapped up, and the rest of you are not far behind. Here at Beyond Breakfast we know that summer vacation means a lot of things—free time, rest and relaxation, playing outside—but behind the summer fun lurks a sobering reality: hunger. For students who eat most (or all) of their meals at school, summer months—like weekends and school breaks—leave a nutritional gap, but unlike weekends and school breaks, this gap lasts for months.
The conversation about summer feeding has already begun. Calls are going out on Facebook and Twitter; state SNAs and school districts are sharing information on the whens, wheres, and hows of summer feeding programs.
So, what can we do? What can you do? If your school or district has a summer feeding program, find additional resources online to strengthen and grow the program; if your school or district does not have a program, and you see a need, start mobilizing stakeholders to get a new program off the ground.
But where do you start? Let’s start with resources you can use to answer your questions, get in touch with others who are running programs, and a variety of toolkits that include menus, educational materials, and more.
USDA Food and Nutrition Service Program
USDA Food and Nutrition Services Program has set up an extensive list of links and services dedicated to their Summer Food Service Program. Filling the summer nutrition gap helps students stay healthy and maintain the progress they make during the school year. Find meals and sites in your community, become a Summer Food Service Program sponsor, open a feeding site, volunteer, and share information with others through the USDA Food and Nutrition Services Program. Use the following links to help you navigate:
- Seamless Summer Program
- Outreach materials
- Learn more about becoming a sponsor
- Find answers to Frequently Asked Questions
- Bookmark this library of resources for the School Food Service Program
School Nutrition Association
The School Nutrition Association website provides a Summer Feeding Toolkit to help school nutrition professionals who want to bridge the hunger gap for their students during the summer months. Find information to help you get started, or expand your program, as well as resources to help you promote your program and work with the media. Finally, you can check out sample menus from other schools to help you craft your summer feeding menus.
Feeding America is a non-profit organization dedicated to feeding the hungry in America through a network of member food banks, as well as engaging the entire country in the effort to end hunger. According to the Feeding America website, while over 21 million children participated in free or reduced-price school meals in 2011, just over 2 million received meals during the summer months. Citing a lack of local programs, Feeding America has assembled information for those seeking additional resources about summer feeding programs.
- Summer Food Assistance Program (SFSP): Find a summary of the purpose of the Summer Food Assistance Program on this page, as well as a brief legislative history and data about reimbursement.
- Use Feeding America’s Food Bank Locator (organized by state) to help you locate a food bank in your area.
Second Harvest Resources (By city, or region)
The Second Harvest network is a network of hunger-relief organizations that work with food banks and meal centers to collect and distribute food. To determine whether there is a Second Harvest in your area, search the keywords “second harvest” using Google (or your preferred search engine); add your city or geographic area to narrow your results.
Many states offer additional information on summer feeding programs. The state of Texas as dedicated a section at the Texas Department of Agriculture’s website to information on summer feeding programs; Florida has a site dedicated to summer feeding called Summer BreakSpot. Check whether your state has additional information on summer feeding programs, visit your state website or Google “summer feeding” plus your state’s name.
Share Our Strength
Share Our Strength has created the No Kid Hungry This Summer interactive map, to bring summer feeding stories and events together in one place. The No Kid Hungry This Summer program is connecting hungry children with the summer meals they need; visit the interactive map to find more information, take action, and locate summer meals in your area. Other useful resources include: