With summer right around the corner, it’s time to think about how children will access healthy meals outside of the classroom. Despite summer’s image as a healthy, active season, it actually is a time when many children fall back in nutrition and physical activity.
More than 21 million children receive free and reduced price meals during the school year, yet only 2 million children access free meals from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Programs in the summer. United Way is raising awareness about where families across the country can find free and nutritious meals for their children during the summer months.
To close the summer hunger gap, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) partners with schools, local governments, and community organizations to provide free meals to children when school is out for the summer. The Summer Food Service Program was established to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.
Any child age 18 and under may go to a designated summer meal site and eat for free. This summer, meals will be served at various locations around the country, and the USDA is always seeking new partners to help spread the word and participate in the program.
Help Support Summer Meals for Kids:
- Host or Volunteer at a Summer Meal Site. Meal service sites may be located in a variety of settings, including schools, recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, and churches. Help set up a site, supervise activities, or volunteer to prepare meals. Learn more.
- Advocate for federal anti-hunger programs that provide summer meals to children, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Read our SNAP one-pager and the USDA’s map on the economic benefit of increased SNAP participation.
- Spread the word about how children and families can access summer meals on social media:
- Help @UnitedWay @USDA provide summer meals for kids. Learn more http://1.usa.gov/aLJ3zs #liveunited #kidswin
- Where can kids get summer meals in your community? Find @USDA’s summer meal sites http://1.usa.gov/aLJ3zs #liveunited #kidswin
- Did you know that there’s a nutrition gap in the summer? Get involved http://1.usa.gov/aLJ3zs #liveunited #kidswin
For more information about helping ensure meals are available to children in your community, visit the Summer Food Service Program page.