UPDATED! Summer Feeding Programs Bridge the Hunger Gap for Millions of School Children

Does your community have a summer food program?

With Memorial Day weekend behind us, many school districts are in the final stretch before summer vacation begins. As our school nutrition professionals know, many students that they serve rely on school meals; they are, for many, the only meals school children can rely on. Every year we see a growing need for summer feeding programs, and to go along with the need is an ever-expanding network of anti-hunger organizations and activists who are mobilizing to answer the call. What does the need for summer feeding look like? According to our friends and partners at FRAC, 21 million kids rely on free and reduced-price school lunches for their nutrition during the school year in the United States, but just over 3 million kids get a summer meal.

Free summer meals help bridge the hunger gap for children whose families are experiencing food insecurity. Free, healthy summer meals are available across the country for kids and teenagers under the age of 18, and can be found at thousands of sites across the country. These sites are funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), approved by state agencies, and run at schools, churches, community centers, and other safe, local organizations.

Each year, Beyond Breakfast compiles a list of summer feeding resources for our readers. We encourage you to share this blog post with your friends via email, Facebook, and Twitter. If you are sharing this link on Twitter, use the hashtag #summermeals to add it to the ongoing conversation on summer feeding.

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, and access all summer feeding materials on the SNA website with a simple search.


FRAC has recently shared implementation guides and calendars, which provide a step-by-step plan to successfully prepare, promote and execute the Summer Nutrition Programs. These calendars and guide were developed specifically for California, in collaboration with the California Department of Education and the California Summer Meals Coalition, but sponsors and supporters of the Summer Nutrition Programs in other states also will find this tool and the included resources helpful


USDA Food and Nutrition Services Program revamped their Summer Food Service Program website, and it looks terrific! 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. You can also access additional resources like training videos, FAQs, free PSAs, and sign up for email updates.

Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry

In May 2013, Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign released new findings which show that low-income families find it harder to make ends meet during summer months. In their national survey of 1,200 low-income families in the United States:

  • 43 percent say that they find it harder to make ends meet during the summer.
  • 32 percent report sometimes finding themselves without enough food during the summer months.
  • Most low-income families (62 percent) report spending more on food during the summer months with an average increase of $300 more per month.

Resources From NKH/SOS

Feeding America

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. Visit the Feeding America summer feeding resource page for national program data, to request additional information, and to use Feeding America’s Food Bank Locator (organized by state) to help you locate a food bank in your state.

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.

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