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.

The Need

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 or 619-501-7917.

Latest School Meals Program Updates

Upcoming Hunger Free Kids Task Force Meetings

Wed. February 20, 2019 9:00 am – 10:00 am Vista Community Clinic Vale Terrace Vista, CA 92084 Women’s Center, 2nd Floor Classroom 2