Summer meals

Summer Meals

When the last bell rings at the end of the school year, millions of children are cut off from the healthy meals they get each day at school. 

Now, thanks to the work of No Kid Hungry, there’s a federal program to help families buy food during the summer. And there’s another new program that will help kids this summer: rural communities can now offer meals delivery and pick-up services, instead of requiring children to travel to the sites where the meals are served.

Together, these new programs could help more than 30 million children in the United States.

How We're Helping Kids Get Summer Meals

No Kid Hungry — together with our donors and our partners — worked for years to make these critical new programs happen. But there’s a huge task ahead as we work to help schools, community organizations and state agencies implement them — and ensure that families and communities are aware.

Grocery Cards. Families who need help will receive $120 per child for the summer. The money is provided on a card that can be used to buy groceries. This system is known as summer electronic benefits transfer (summer EBT); we saw incredible success in reducing childhood hunger with a similar program during the pandemic. 

  • We’re working closely with the USDA to make sure they get all the necessary information to the state agencies that administer benefit programs

  • We’re helping state agencies and community groups improve their data and technology systems so families can access the program this summer

  • We developed a summer meals playbook with Code for America to help state agencies understand and prepare for the new program

Free Meals in Rural Communities. Many communities offer free meals to children during the summer, typically at schools, community centers or public libraries. But for many years, children were only allowed to eat the food if they stayed there. This meant that kids who lived far from such a meals site might not get the chance to eat - especially in rural communities.  

But with these new policy changes that No Kid Hungry and others fought for, schools and local nonprofits in rural communities can now offer meals delivery and pick-up services, instead of requiring children to travel to the sites where the meals are served.

  • We’re providing grant funding to schools and community groups so they can get what they need to run their summer meals programs - from delivery vehicles to kitchen equipment.

  • We’re working with the USDA to expand these meals services to more communities: encouraging a broader definition of rural; allowing local groups to offer both delivery/pick-up services as well as meals served onsite; and offering more options for parents.

  • We’re helping communities understand the new policies so they can operate their meals programs effectively, through conferences, webinars and other resources.

Traditional Summer Meals Sites. Meanwhile, many children still rely on free summer meals served at community sites in neighborhoods across the country, from schools to parks to libraries. 

No Kid Hungry continues to support these local efforts, though this year we are limiting the grant funding that goes to such programs in order to invest everything we can in the new programs outlined above that have the potential to reach so many children.  

  • Continuing to offer and expand our Free Meals Finder service so that parents can easily find free summer meals sites in their neighborhood. 

With your support, we’ll make sure every child gets the healthy food they need to have a great summer. Learn more about the ways you can help hungry kids or make a donation today.