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School may be out for summer, but having access to fresh, nutritious food is not! Summer Food Service Programs (SFSP) are federally funded, state administered programs. Each year as school lets out, SFSPs provide free meals and snacks to low-income children ages 18 and younger. SFSPs ensure that children continue to receive nutritious meals all summer long.

Did you know, according to the national campaign: No Kid Hungry, summer meals are only meeting 12 percent of hungry kids needs nationwide? There are simple steps you can take to make an impact on the community and increase awareness.

  • Outreach- Develop or collect flyers, brochures, or handouts to pass out around the community. Examples of locations that have summer meals include parks, rec centers, churches, and summer camps. In your material, include information on where to locate a summer feeding site.
    • SFSP Clickable Map- Click Here
    • Text “summer meals” to 97779
    • Call 1-866-348-06479
  • Public Service Announcements- Contact newspapers, television and radio stations to promote SFSPs.
  • Social Media- Use social media as a marketing tool to share pictures and meal service times.
  • Events- Promote SFSPs by holding a summer kick-off event at the beginning of summer.

Now that the children and community are aware of your SFSP, here are few tips from USDA to keep the children coming back!

  • Announce to children, at each meal service, the time and location of the next available meal service.
  • Have a ‘bring-a-buddy’ program at your sites. Tell children in attendance that they will be recognized if they bring a friend with them the next day.
  • Ask the children at your sites how they like their meal. Adjust menus to serve more popular meals, to keep the kids coming back.
  • Offer activities at the meal sites to keep children engaged and excited to come back. Get creative; the activities do not have to cost you anything!
    • If your site serves multiple age groups, ask the older teens to teach the younger children a sport.
    • Ask the local fire or police department to provide a safety demonstration.
    • Set up a cooking lesson with a community college or local chef.
  • Engage parents and grandparents. Invite them to volunteer or to help promote Summer Meals to their neighbors.

What is one of the biggest struggles to hosting a summer food service site? If you guessed budget, you are right!  While there is a lot that goes into a summer food service budget, let’s go back to the basics and look at one of your operating costs, your food. Follow these simple tips to keep meal cost low, giving you the most bang for your buck.

  • Plan your meals around food that is in season.  With summer on your side, you have access to fresh, local produce often at a lower cost. Use resources like this seasonal food guide to learn what is in season near you and cooking tips.
  • Choose foods that are generally inexpensive to mix with the more costly foods. It is possible to get nutrient dense food at an affordable cost.  Experiment with foods like beans, rice, lentils, and fresh and frozen veggies.
  • Keep track of Inventory. Incorporate what you have on hand into your menu plan to prevent spoilage.
  • Use your production records.  By recording your leftovers for a meal, you can forecast and make adjustments for the next time that meal is served.

Need more information on SFSPs? Fortunately, there are numerous resources to turn to. They range from simple facts, to getting started at a site and developing a nutrient packed menu, to creating awareness and developing sponsorships. These tools can help you prepare, promote, and implement SFSPs. For further information, check out the resources listed below.

 
 



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