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This section includes outreach materials, advice on working with key partners to spread the word about summer meals programs in your community, and guidance on leveraging media to amplify your message.

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Summer Meals Outreach Resource Toolkit
two girls and one boy, all in elementary school, stand holding their summer meal with smiles on their faces

These high-quality resources were designed to help make it easy for you to promote summer meals.

Thanks to the generous support of the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, No Kid Hungry has created a summer meals outreach toolkit to help you get the word out to families. A range of ready-made promotional materials are available to help publicize summer meals in your community. Use these resources to maximize the impact of outreach efforts in schools, faith communities, community organizations and online.

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School-Based Outreach
two teenage boys eating a meal at school

According to a 2013 survey of low-income families, schools are the most trusted source of information regarding child nutrition programs, so they are crucial pathways to reaching kids and families. If a school offers summer meals, they and their partners should actively promote it to students. If a school does not provide summer meals, then schools should instead provide information about nearby programs that are open to students.

Schools can spread the word about summer meals through:

Visit the Summer Meals Research section to learn more about the survey results and parents' perspectives on summer meals.

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Faith-Based Outreach
7th grade boy sitting at a table eating his summer meal, smiling

Faith-based organizations and places of worship are trusted sources of information and support, so they can be helpful partners for promoting programs within the community. Faith-based organizations have a number of avenues available to get the word out about the availability of summer meals.

Direct outreach to congregations, such as:

Engagement with other local faith leaders, such as:

  • Sharing information about programs and inviting youth from other congregations to participate
  • Coordinating faith summits or gatherings to educate the faith community about summer meals programming
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Community Outreach
kid holding a sign that says "Meet up and eat up"

Partnership with community-based organizations and volunteers is an effective strategy to raise awareness and increase access to summer meals programs. Community groups that offer enrichment programming are also promising candidates to offer summer meals.

Community-based organizations have a range of options to initiate or expand their outreach efforts:

  • Work with the state agency to map existing summer meals sites in the community in order to target areas for outreach or promotion.
  • Conduct a neighborhood canvassing event with volunteer organizations or other local partners.
  • Put up outreach materials that promote summer meals in locations across the community: parks and recreation centers, libraries, community health centers, public transportation centers, public housing complexes, childcare facilities, houses of worship, grocery/convenience stores, barber shops, hair salons, food pantries, and other government offices delivering social services.

For community groups interested in becoming a summer meals sponsor or site, it is important to learn the basics of the program and engage with the administering state agency to learn how to get started.

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Online Outreach
teenage girl smiling and eating her summer meal

The internet and social media networks are a great way to reach a large audience at relatively low cost. Online outreach, including paid advertising, provides an opportunity to hone in on your target audience to ensure your investments of time and money are well-spent.

The information that you decide to provide will depend on your services and your audience, but options include:

  • Stories or statistics demonstrating the need for summer meals, like No Kid Hungry’s 2013 survey results
  • Best practices or stories from successful programs
  • Details about your organization’s programs that serve summer meals
  • Information about other local summer programs that offer meals, particularly those that are drop-in sites open to all children

You can spread the word through:

  • A FAQ section on your website
    • It may also be helpful to share this information with state agency partners and other community organizations.
  • A direct link from your website to social media sites where up-to-date program information is available
  • Summer meals-related social media posts shared directly with your network or by local leaders
  • Videos, photos, and other digital content shared with your online network
  • Facebook ads that include your website, phone number, and information about when and where meals are served
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Engage the Media & Elected Officials
two adults in conversation at a capital building

Getting a newspaper to promote free summer meals is an effective way to bring attention to the program, as are public service announcements (PSAs) on radio or television stations. Hosting a media event at a summer meals site is also an opportunity to engage elected officials and bolster support for programs that nourish kids when school is out. Writing an op-ed or letter to the editor can also help raise awareness about summer meals. To help you make the most of these opportunities, the Center for Best Practices has compiled resources to support your work in this area.

Engage Elected Officials

As elected officials return home during the summer months, a visit to a local summer meals site will reinforce the importance of these programs and increase buy-in from these leaders to ensure that all children have access to meals in the summertime. Arranging a site visit provides an opportunity for these officials to directly engage with constituents and better understand how your work is building resilience within the community.

  • Summer Site Visit Toolkit: The No Kid Hungry campaign has prepared a toolkit to help your organization facilitate these events. This toolkit provides planning timelines, template communication and publicity materials, and tips for executing a successful event highlighting the importance of summer meals to elected officials and other local influencers.

Work with the Media

  • Summer Message Playbook: No Kid Hungry’s Communications Team has collected tips, best practices, and customizable assets from experts around the country to provide you the tools you need to get the right people to take the right actions at the right time to boost program participation and awareness. The Summer Outreach Playbook is your one-stop shop to build and implement your own strategic communications plan to get the word out to children and families about summer meals.
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