For Kids, Summer is the Hungriest Time of Year
During the school year, more than 40 percent of K-12 kids in Minnesota are eligible for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. However, when school ends and summer begins, these children may not have access to the nutritious meals they need. Distributing free meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) helps to fill the gap.
How it Works
SFSP is a federal nutrition program that serves as an extension of the school lunch program. SFSP strives to provide nutritious food to youth in the summer months when they lose access to the meals they receive in school. In fact, summer is the “hungriest time of the year” for kids. Through the meal program, meal sites can be established in income-eligible areas, at locations around the community such as schools, churches, recreation centers, parks and libraries. Once established, any person 18 and under can visit and receive a meal—no ID or registration required.
Every meal is free to young people, helping to relieve family summer budgets when kids are out of school and ensures students have access to the nutrition they need for healthy physical, mental and emotional development. We know that by reducing child hunger, we will improve the life chances of one in eight Minnesota children and help build a future where all children are able to contribute to the health and prosperity of our communities.
Working Together to Reach More Kids
One of the challenges we face is reaching the families that need our help, so the program is drastically underutilized. Only about 15 percent of students who receive free or reduced-price meals participate in the summer. We’re working hard to change that by promoting and supporting the growth of SFSP. There are hundreds of meal sites across Minnesota and western Wisconsin with more being added every year, and SHH is partnering with a variety of organizations to help improve the program
For example, this summer, Second Harvest Heartland is supporting Minneapolis Public Schools to expand their food truck service, bringing hot meals to hard-to-reach areas. Our partners in South Washington County will be adding more than 15,000 summer meals with a combination of meal sites at schools and mobile meal sites throughout their communities. We’re also partnering with The Sheridan Story, a nonprofit food shelf and distribution center, to help them expand their services to establish their first SFSP site in Roseville, Minn. These are just a few examples of how we’re working with our community partners to bring meals to more hungry kids this summer. We’re looking forward to sharing more about our efforts this summer!
Find a Meal Distribution Site Near You
Use the USDA’s meal mapper, or text “food” to 877-877 to find free meals in your area.