Summer Nutrition Programs

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Summer Featured Information

Nearly 1 in 6 Low-Income Children Receive Summer Meals, Report Finds
According to FRAC’s annual summer meals report Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation (pdf), more low-income children are eating summer meals, demonstrating what can be done when the federal government, states, and communities make summer food a priority. Download related infographics.

Summer Food Mapper

New Guidance from USDA could result in more sites in low-income areas to become eligible for Summer Food. The guidance allows Summer Food sites to qualify using Census Tracks in addition to Census Block Groups (CBG).

July 2014 Participation

...from FRAC’s latest Summer Nutrition Status Report (pdf).

  • An average of nearly 3.2 million children participated on an average weekday in the Summer Nutrition Programs.
  • 16 children received summer nutrition for every 100 low-income students who received lunch in the 2013-2014 school year.
  • Only one in six low-income children who ate a school lunch during the regular 2013-2014 school year were reached by the Summer Nutrition Programs.


Find Summer Food Sites in Your Community

You can find summer food sites in your area by calling the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (Spanish – 1-877-8-HAMBRE), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Or use USDA’s online tool to search for your closest site.

Why the Summer Meal Programs are Important

When school lets out, millions of low-income children lose access to the school breakfasts, lunches and afterschool snacks they receive during the regular school year. The summer food programs are there to fill this gap.

Many summer food sites provide educational enrichment and recreational activities along with meals and snacks, helping children continue to learn and stay safe when school is not in session. The meals provided through summer nutrition programs act as a magnet to draw children to these activities.

In late 2007, Congress simplified the summer food program and extended it to include all states. Simplifying the program eliminated complex accounting requirements, reduced paperwork and ensures all sponsors receive the maximum federal reimbursement.

Two federal nutrition programs exist to feed children during the summer months:

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

Best for:

  • summer programs operated by a local government agency such as Parks and Recreation or nonprofit organization;
  • schools that are especially concerned about reimbursement rates (the SFSP reimbursement is higher than the NSLP reimbursement which is the reason why some schools operate SFSP during the summer instead of NSLP).

National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

Best for:

  • summer programs that are school sponsored and have a school food service department that is willing to provide healthy snacks and meals;
  • summer programs that do not have the capacity to administer the snack or meal service itself.

All summer meals served through the Summer Food Service Program must meet USDA nutritional guidelines and include all of the following:

  • 1 serving of milk
  • 2 servings of fruits and/or vegetables
  • 1 serving of grains
  • 1 serving of protein

A summer breakfast can be as simple as a fruit muffin, cheese stick, watermelon slice and a carton of low-fat milk. Lunch can be as simple as vegetable pasta, a low-fat yogurt cup, watermelon and a carton of low-fat milk.

The state child nutrition agency can provide afterschool programs with additional information about the nutrition guidelines and help them plan menus that meet the USDA requirements.