Free Summer Meals for Kids

Summer Meals

Summer is a critical time for children’s academic and physical well-being.  During the summer children are at a higher risk of both obesity and hunger.  Summer meals programs, which include the Summer Food Services Program and the Seamless Summer Option/National School Lunch Program, provide free summer meals for kids and can become an important source of nutritious food for children and youth during this time.  Offering free, nutritious meals also provides an incentive for children to participate in summer enrichment programs, which means that children are not only well-fed, but in a safe environment engaged in academic and recreational activities.

New Tool: Averaged Eligibility Map

Need help figuring out if a summer meal site or day care home is area eligible according to USDA’s averaging policy? Use Share Our Strength’s new Averaged Eligibility Map! Developed in collaboration with Esri, this map will show you if the site’s census block group meets the 50% free and reduced price eligibility threshold when averaged with adjacent block groups. You can access the map and user’s guide here. The user’s guide will help you to interpret the map and show you how to use the data provided in the map to submit a request to your state agency to get your site formally designated as area eligible. 

Supporting Year-Round Meals by Streamlining SFSP and CACFP

Summer is over, but the need is not. Children may have the safety net of breakfast and lunch now that school is back in session, but for families struggling with hunger, there's still a gap. By the time the bell rings at the end of the school day, children and teens need food to fuel the hours of afterschool activities that keep them active and learning. Many will not have a nutritious dinner at home, and some will not eat at all until they return to school for breakfast the next morning. Unfortunately, many of the schools and sponsors that kids and families relied upon during the summer aren't offering meals during the school year. This is due in part to the administrative burden of applying for and operating a separate program, the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meal Program. Enabling organizations to operate year-round promotes continuity for children who participate in out-of-school time programs and also fosters fiscal sustainability, encourages staff retention, and builds the institutional knowledge of sponsors. The USDA has offered guidance to help simplify the process for transitioning between programs, but state agencies play a crucial role in interpreting, implementing, and promoting these options. This guidance provides concrete steps that state agency officials can take to cultivate understanding across programs and facilitate the process for participants.

Summer 2014: Action and Impact

*Data shows increase of meals in 2014 compared to 2013. SFSP data provided by USDA; grants data provided by grantees.

Learn more about what happened in No Kid Hungry Campaign states on our 2014 Summer Results page