In San Diego County, 59 percent of children who benefit from free or reduced-price school lunches don’t have access to this important nutrition during the summer months. That’s more than 68,000 kids.
Our Director of School Meal Programs, Robin McNulty, attended the annual Summer Meal Summit hosted by the California Summer Meal Coalition to learn about the latest strategies for increasing summer meal participation. From Robin’s perspective as an experienced summer meal provider, here are the top five tips for San Diego organizations looking to help children access healthy meals this summer.
- An effective summer meal program doesn’t start in the summer; it’s a year-round effort. For a superb summer meal program, start by getting administrative processes in place early to engage existing and new partners in developing your vision and strategy.
- Develop clear messaging to build awareness and reduce confusion among your target audiences. Working with a local network like San Diego Hunger Coalition’s Summer Meals Task Force can help with this.
- Tailor your outreach about the summer meal program to the neighborhood where meal sites are located with culturally appropriate promotion in convenient locations.
- Recruit partner agencies to offer regular activities and programs at summer meal sites to encourage community members to enroll in the summer meal program. If partner agencies cannot commit to providing consistent activities, consider an “adopt-a-week” strategy.
- Hold a kick-off event to invite families to learn about summer meal programs in a fun, kid-friendly setting.