Summer Nutrition Programs – Free Lunch for Children

By | September 5, 2017

The Summer Nutrition Program feeds breakfast and lunch to millions of children from low-income families summer months.  This makes the difference of having three nutritious meals a day or going hungry.  If you receive help from government benefits your child is probably eligible for free lunch.

The National School Lunch Program is a federally-funded meal program. It operated in public school, and not for profit private school and child care centers.  The program gives healthy meals free or at a low cost to offer free lunch to children.

The National School Lunch Program

The school lunch started in 1966 as a pilot project to help what they then called, “nutritionally needy” children.  The program was usually set up in public schools in the poorest communities.  In the first year of the 2-year program, they feed 80,000 children for a little over a half million dollars.


Summer Nutrition Programs

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)  with the USDA will serve over 200 million meals to children under 18 years old, during summer break from school. The Summer Nutrition Programs encompasses three programs consist of three programs.

  •  The Summer Food Service
  •  School Breakfast, and the
  •  National School Lunch Program

Children who eat breakfast and lunch during the school year, often to not take advantage of the Summer Lunch Program.  One out of every six who eat free lunch during the school year.  Only 1 in 6 six low-income children who ate a school lunch during the 2014–2015 school year were reached by the Summer Nutrition Programs in July 2015.

How the Summer Lunch Program Works

Anyone can sponsor a Summer Lunch Program as long as they are an extension of the community.  Like parks, schools, rec centers, Indian reservation, housing projects, church, camp and boys and girls centers. Any safe place where children congregate may be a good location for summer meals.

How or Organize and Participate in a Summer Lunch Program?

1. Contact your State agency to determine if your site is eligible to serve summer meals.  You will be connected with a sponsor organization.



2. Get the word out in your church organization or community group.  Advertise by free radio or posting flyer throughout the area in which you are serving meals.

3.  Prepare games and activities that help teach new skills.  Children will range in age, up to the age of 18.   Ask the older children to assist you in giving out games, and monitoring activities.

Click here, Enter your address, city, state and zip code, to find a Free Lunch Site near you.  The locations will begin to be posted in May.

The School Meal Program

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had proposed to change the school lunch nutritional requirement for the school lunch program to improve food choices.  The present program will be controlled by school localities rather than the Federal Government on whole grains, sodium, and milk. 

With a review of the program food service employees and students feedback revealed the low fat, low salt food, and skim milk was not eaten because of last of taste and flavor.  As a result, much of it ended up in the garbage.   





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