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Summer Lunch Program

Updated on November 24, 2017

Free Summer Lunch Program

The summer lunch or summer food program (same thing) was designed to fill the possible nutritional gaps in the diet of children who do not get school lunch because of the summer break.

The theory is that because the child is part of a low income family, there is a big chance he/she may not get a middle of the day meal, or a nutritionally balanced lunch, if the school is on summer break.

The program was not designed because of some crazy notion that "poor people don't feed their kids."

The program was designed because government aid administration understands that hard working, responsible parents who are living paycheck to paycheck, are busy trying to get the rent paid, keep the lights on, and put gas in their tanks - so the USDA is there to help.

*It is important to note that this program is entirely different from the Free and Reduced School Lunch Program.

How it Works

Participating agencies in the program will go out to "feeding sites" and administer food to children in low income neighborhoods.

Volunteers arrive at the designated spot with the free meals at a certian time of the day, and distribute boxed meals to eligible children.

The program may also be located within local Boys and Girls Clubs, Local City Parks, Daycare Centers, Neighborhood Centers, and just about any organization that caters to the welfare of children, particularly low income families.

What Kind of Food Will My Child Get?

As I mentioned earlier, the meal is prepared and boxed (or sometimes bag lunches, or lunches on trays at children's summer camp programs and the like).

Because the summer food program is a part of the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, the meals have to meet certain nutrition and safety guidelines.

Your child might receive a sandwich with protein, a piece of fruit, dunkable veggies, a healthy snack item, and a milk carton or juice.

How to Apply for the Summer Food Program

This is the tricky part because there is no universal "application" process.

Summer lunch feeding sites are located in low income neighborhoods in recreation centers all across America, this is a good place to start.

If you receive food stamps, your case worker or food stamp office will often give out flyers about the program each year when summer approaches.

Also, you can contact social service hotlines, like the United Way 211 Service, or your local community service hotline.

Finally, if all else fails, you can contact your local child nutrition human services agency in order to find out which outside agencies participate in the summer food program in your area, then contact the agency directly to get an application.

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    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      6 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      Thanks for the comments, but remember, this is the Summer Food Program, not the School Lunch Program.

      @ Dawn Conklin - that was such a nice gesture from the local pizza restaurant, and it was a nice gesture from you as well. These small acts of kindness make the world a better place.

    • stayingalivemoma profile image

      Valerie Washington 

      6 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

      Good job, as usual...yeah I've used this program pretty much with all my kids. Sometimes the lunches are not as "good" as the ones for paying students.

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 

      6 years ago from Winnipeg

      Good info here, its really good where its offered. We used to have our kids enrolled in these programs too, but not all schools have them. Thanks for sharing! Voted Up and Useful!

    • Dawn Conklin profile image

      Dawn Conklin 

      6 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Hi Rachelle,

      Great information! I live in an area where it is considered urban with an income tax break. We have a couple places around town that they set up in. A couple years it was in the local pizza place-the owner is a very nice family man who does a lot for the community. They offered boxed lunches and at least once a week he donated pizzas to the children. We found out accidentally the one day when we went to get pizza for lunch and the kids were offered a free lunch. They did not ask for proof of income and no application. I bought them lunch to save it for kids in need.

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