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Summertime meal programs available for children around the country

Posted on May 19, 2014 by Maggie LaBarbera

I was asked to share some important information about the USDA Summer Food Program.  I am happy to do this and know that it is important for children who are out of school but need some help getting a healthy lunch each day.

There are hundreds of locations around the country that will be offering summer lunches to children.  

You can use this link to find summer meal programs for children in your area.  Just enter in your information to the left of the page.

Or you can use the hotline: call 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (for Spanish speakers) to find a free, nutritious summer meal site near you.

Promoting summer feeding sites in your community is one of the most important things you can do to ensure no child goes hungry this summer.  The more parents, children, and teenagers know about where sites are located, the more children will come to eat.  Anyone can do outreach using the resources we have here.  Sites, sponsors, community advocates, and volunteers can use a variety of tools to draw attention to summer meals.  

There are many ways to become involved and help the children in your community get the nutrition they need during summertimeg

Organizations Providing Meals To Children

If you have an organization that is participating in the program to provide meals, make sure your program is registered.  register your program.

Organizations that would like to participate and provide meals to children in your area can find out how to become a sponsor.


Volunteers Helping To Spread The Word

Summer Meals Flyer and Door Hanger

Highlights a toll-free number and online map that families can use to find summer feeding sites closest to them.  The door hanger allows you to write in more local information specific to your community.  Hang them up and hand them out where you work and live. 

Tweet it and share it with your audience online (you can use @USDANutrition in your tweets

Blog on it (like me!) ;-)

You can take this printed material to your local school.  They may not be aware.



1. Myth: USDA Summer Meal Programs are only for young children. 
Fact: Anyone 18 and under can receive meals through our Summer Meal 
Programs! Teens face the same risks of food insecurity in the summer, so make 
sure your teens are taking advantage of free summer meals too! 
2. Myth: To get a meal, I have to sign my children up at the site ahead of time. 
Fact: Most Summer Meal Program sites are ‘open sites,’ which means they are 
open to the community and do not require that children sign up in advance or 
even ‘check-in’ at the site. Children and teens must simply show up at the site to  get their meal. Remember, the meal has to be eaten at the site! Most residential and day camps do require that you sign up for their program in advance in order  to receive free meals. 
3. Myth: I already receive benefits from SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition 
Assistance Program), so my children can’t receive meals from this Program. 
Fact: USDA Summer Meal Programs supplement the meals that your children 
receive during the school year. Regardless of what other assistance your family 
may receive, open Summer Meal Program sites will provide meals for your 
4. Myth: I should not send my children to a summer meals site because we’re doing better than some other families and I don’t want to take a meal away from someone who needs it more. 
Fact: Sponsors prepare and distribute meals based on the number of children 
and teens that come to their sites. They are reimbursed by USDA for these meals, so if there is an increase in attendance at the site, the sponsors can plan to provide more meals the next day. 
5. Myth: I have to submit income information, legal status, or other personal 
information about my family, in order for my child to be welcomed to a summer 
meals site. 
Fact: Summer Meal Program ‘open sites’ are open to the community. Parents 
are not required to give any personal information about th




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