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School is Out – What Happens to Children Relying on School Meals?

June 20, 2014

Children are ready to enjoy summer, but for too many, summer means missing meals when school meal programs are unavailable. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) ensures children and teens under age 18 have access to free, safe, nutritious meals. Through the program, meals are provided at schools, faith-based organizations, parks, pools, community centers, apartment complexes and non-profit programs. These meals help children in eligible high-need areas get the proper nutrition they need during the summer when schools are not in session.

A mother takes her two young children to one of the many free summer food service locations

Studies have shown that poor nutrition during the summer months can affect children’s academic performance during the school year. SFSP helps children get the nourishing food they need so they return to school in the fall ready to learn. The program is a great resource for parents and caretakers who may lack the resources to provide additional meals for kids when school meals are not available.

This summer, participating organizations anticipate serving 2.7 million meals statewide. However that will reach only about 16 percent of eligible children. The Minnesota Department of Education seeks additional sponsors for underserved communities needing summer meal sites. Help is needed to find additional sponsor locations and to spread the word about existing summer sites that provide breakfast, lunch, supper or snack to children in need. Visit the Summer Food Service web page for more information.

Looking for a meal site?

It’s important that families know where summer sites in their neighborhoods are located so that they can get these healthy, free meals to their children. To find out the closest SFSP site near you, the following resources are available:

Call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-Hungry or 1-877-8-HAMBRE. It’s a free call, available in both English and Spanish, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eastern Time.

Call 2-1-1 Hotline, cell phones: metro area: 651-291-0211; outstate: 800-543-7709; TTY: 651-291-8440.

Visit Second Harvest Heartland’s Summer Meal Map for sites that are open to all children, including meal, service times and dates. Use the Summer Meal Map to find a free meal site near you, or call or text 612-516-FOOD (3663).

School staff report that well-nourished kids return to school ready to learn. Nutritious summer meals work together with nutritious school meals to tackle childhood hunger year round.