Summer Meals Program
School’s out for the summer. Hunger is not. What happens to the more than 125,000 lower-income children in San Diego County who depend upon the free or reduced-price lunches they eat during the school year? They can participate in a Summer Meals Program.
What is the Summer Meals Program?
The Summer Meals Program is officially called the Summer Food Service Program. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to ensure children under the age of 18 do not go hungry during the summer months, when school meals are not available.
The program is typically found at schools, park and recreation sites, lower-income housing developments, or community organizations.
To find a location near you, check with your local school district, your local park and recreation center, or click here for the State agency.
Neither learning nor the need for good nutrition ends with the school year. For children who enjoy this program, the food they receive helps keep them healthy, ready to learn, and can contribute to better behavior.
Unfortunately, in San Diego County only 1 in 10 children enrolled in the Free and Reduced Price Meal Program participate in the Summer Meals program. Low participation in summer meal programs happens for a variety of reasons, such as a lack of nearby sites (which is particularly an issue in rural areas). This puts these children at risk for illness and other health issues. When school resumes in the fall, they are more likely to fall into a cycle of poor performance due to lack of (nutritious) food.
Eligibility and Sites
Summer meals are open to all children under the age of 18. There are no income qualifications, no enrollment, and no paperwork required to participate.
A site is a location where the summer meals are served. Sites can be a school, church, library, park and recreation center or a local community organization, i.e. YMCA. Open Summer Meal sites provide free meals to any child who comes to the site. These sites operate in low-income areas where 50% or more of the children residing in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. Click here for a listing of summer meals sites. San Diego Hunger Coalition recommends checking with your local site to confirm the program is still being offered at that location.
If you are interested in learning how to become a site or sponsor please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619-501-7917.
Facilitated by the San Diego Hunger Coalition, the Hunger Free Kids Task Force is the leading resource for starting new afterschool and summer meal sites and improving existing sites. The goal is to increase countywide participation in meal programs that occur when school is not in session to ensure our region's low-income children have year-round access to three meals a day.
The Task Force is a forum where San Diego County afterschool and summer meal sponsors, sites, and community partners come together to share information and collectively identify and resolve problems around programming and other barriers to participation. The Task Force approaches child hunger with systems-level, sustainable solutions that produce consistent, tangible results. Through its facilitation of the Task Force, San Diego Hunger Coalition provides expert technical assistance to help meal sites and sponsors increase participation, improve enrichment activities, increase community awareness about these meal programs and unlock available federal dollars to sustain kids’ meals at schools and youth organizations.
Task Force members meet monthly from February through November to review best practices, discuss specific issues, generate ideas to improve awareness, leverage resources to enhance programming, and build capacity among local community based organizations.
Hunger Free Kids Task Force Goals:
Increase participation at summer and afterschool meal sites
Increase number of summer and afterschool meal sites
Increase enrichment programming at existing sites
Participating organizations include:
Hope for Housing Foundation
Kitchens for Good
Lakeside School District
National City Community Services Dept.
Neighborhood House Association
Oceanside Unified School District
Project New Village
San Diego Food Bank
San Diego State University, WIC
San Diego Unified School District
San Ysidro School District
SAY San Diego
South Bay Community Services
South Bay Union School District
Sweetwater Union High School District
UCSD Division of Community Pediatrics
UCSD Center for Community Health, School Wellness
United Way of San Diego County
University of California Cooperative Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
Vista Community Clinic
Volunteers of America Southwest
YMCA Childcare Resource Services
YMCA of San Diego County
2-1-1 San Diego
American Red Cross, WIC
BAME Community Development Corporation
Bayside Community Center
Cajon Valley Union School District
California Summer Meals Coalition
City of Lemon Grove
City of Oceanside Neighborhood Services Dept.
City of San Diego Public Library
City of San Diego Park and Recreation
Community Health Improvement Partners
Community Housing Works
Copley Price YMCA
County of San Diego – Health and Human Services Agency
County of San Diego Library
Dairy Council of California
Escondido Education COMPACT
Escondido Union School District
Fallbrook Elementary School District
Feeding San Diego
The Hunger Free Kids Task Force is always open to new members. If you have questions or would like to attend a meeting, please contact San Diego Hunger Coalition at email@example.com or 619-501-7917.
Latest School Meals Program Updates
Upcoming Hunger Free Kids Task Force Meetings
Wed. January 16, 2019 9:00 am – 10:15 am City Heights Center 4305 University Ave., Room 610 San Diego, CA 92105