Summer Nutrition Program Social Impact Analysis

Executive Summary

Providing children with access to nutritious food beyond the school year and into the summer months has clear health, education, and economic benefits. Federal summer nutrition programs provide dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food to children who rely on federal nutrition programs during the school year. As a result, the summer nutrition programs give children the confidence to know with certainty when, and from where, their next meal is coming.

These programs enable children who participate to receive the nutrition they need and increase their food security. In the short-term, the programs can help mitigate summer weight gain, cognitive decline, and summer learning loss for children from low-income families. In the longer-term, the lasting effects may help increase high school graduation rates and reduce susceptibility to chronic diseases, which are otherwise each accompanied by large potential costs to the children and their communities.

The benefits of summer nutrition programs are also exhibited through a primary data analysis case study of Maryland schools conducted by Share Our Strength and Deloitte. This study shows an association between schools that offer summer nutrition programs and improvements in student math and reading proficiency, as well as high school graduation rates.

In the Appendix, the potential scale of summer nutrition programs’ impacts is explored through a “imagine if” scenario focused on reaching all children not currently receiving food through these programs.

In 2015, Share Our Strength collaborated with Deloitte to develop the Summer Nutrition Program Impact Analysis. This report synthesizes existing research on summer meals and presents a primary data analysis from Maryland schools to demonstrate positive impacts of providing summer meals to children.