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Be Creative with Summer Meals
June 30, 2015
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Recent news stories about school districts that participate in the Summer Meal Programs shows creative ways to feed more children — from using food trucks to delivering meals to parks. And it’s paying off because summer meal participation is growing!  According to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report published this month by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), “Summer 2014 yielded good news for the Summer Nutrition Programs and for low-income children. Last summer marked the largest increase in children eating summer meals since July 1993, the third year of growth in the programs. During July 2014, the Summer Nutrition Programs served nearly 3.2 million children, an increase of 215,000 (7.3 percent) from 2013.”

Take a look at these creative approaches:

  • Food Trucks in Minnesota:  In the local Pioneer Press article St. Paul Schools Putting Free Meals on Wheels, St. Paul Public Schools purchased a food truck last year to increase participation in its Summer Food Service Program. They hope to serve as many as 1,500 meals a day this summer.
  • Kid Power Café and Food Banks in in Kansas: The Wichita, Kansas school district launched its summer foodservice program, known as Kid Power Cafe, in 44 school cafeterias and other locations. Statewide, officials say they expect meals will be served at more than 450 sites, almost 100 more than last summer.  According to an article in The Wichita Eagle, this year the Kansas Food Bank signed on as a sponsor and will supply shelf-stable meals to 19 sites in rural communities, including many that have not had summer food service programs before. One state official noted that some sites are getting creative with their promotion and outreach efforts. For example, several public libraries have signed on to host meal programs, and some are planning to combine mobile book programs with food trucks.
  • Expanded Sites in New Mexico: The free summer meal program in New Mexico is expected to serve 2 million meals statewide at more than 650 locations. The Albuquerque Journal reported that in New Mexico – the second-biggest participating state in the Summer Food Service Program — mobile meal operations use school buses to deliver food to locations such as neighborhood parks, mobile home parks, children’s hospitals, low-income housing projects, and medical clinics that qualify for federal funding. The New Mexico Department of Health is considering sponsoring free summer meals at state health offices that serve families enrolled in the Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program

Based on E S Foods’ experience with the Summer Meals, our best advice to you is this: Keep summer simple by using prepackaged meals. You can easily convert your Seamless Summer Option (SSO under NSLP) to the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to lower meal costs, have easier menu compliance and higher reimbursements. By offering a breakfast and lunch programs instead of a lunch and snack, you can generate the highest revenue. Just contact us to help you get started.