Tools for Building a Successful Summer Meals Program

summer feeding

During the summer months, many schools, community centers, public libraries, and childcare providers offer free meals to children as part of the federally-funded Summer Food Service Program. Also known as the Summer Meals Program, the Summer Food Service Program provides free meals to youth age 18 and under in low-income areas. Participation in the Summer Food Service Program is free and there are no enrollment requirements. The USDA estimates that in the summer of 2017, over 200 million meals will be served through the Summer Meals Program to ensure that no child goes hungry(1).

If you offer summer meals at your program site, there are many resources available to help increase participation all summer long. These resources include fun activities and nutrition education ideas to motivate families and youth to choose more fruits and vegetables and make positive behavior choices to support health and well-being.

Select the links below to visit the Summer Meals Toolkit from FSNE, Maryland’s SNAP-Ed program

Fruits and Vegetables: Make eating more fruits and vegetables fun!

Farm to Summer: Promote local agriculture and explore where we get our food.

Increase Participation: Build site capacity with inviting activities that make summer nutrition fun.

Tips from the USDA for offering healthy summer meals that kids will enjoy

Why We Serve Summer Meals (video from the USDA)

Getting Teens Involved in Summer Meals (video from the USDA)

For more ideas, visit the USDA’s Summer Food, Summer Moves website.

Creative Commons Summer Feeding by USDA is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Joi Vogin, MS, CNS, LDN, University of Maryland Extension


  1. USDA, FNS: Summer Service Program

“Summer Feeding” by U.S Department of Agriculture is licensed under CC BY 2.0