2023 Summer Meals Survey of Rural Families

Although non-congregate meal service is now a permanent option for rural areas with no access to congregate meal service in the Summer Food Service Program and National School Lunch Program's Seamless Summer Option, limited guidance existed at the time about how "access to congregate meal service" should be determined. In June 2023, No Kid Hungry partnered with FM3 Research to survey 600 rural families eligible for free or reduced price school meals about their experiences during the summer as well as their experiences with and preferences for summer meal service. A web-based survey was conducted and administered as telephone-based or online-based interviews. While features like location, transportation, and safety are important practical considerations, survey findings further elaborate the characteristics that families consider when determining whether a meal site is accessible to them. Findings from this survey describe aspects of rural families' preferences for program characteristics that influence their access to summer meal service.