All kids deserve to have fun, carefree summers. But for the millions of children that lose access to school meals when school is out, summer days can be long and hungry. Feeding America network food banks across the country are working to meet both of those needs: Making sure that the children we serve have enough to eat and a happy summer vacation.
Throughout the country, Feeding America member food banks serve as a sponsor of the Summer Food Service program, which is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Food banks partner with local sites to help reach the millions of children who are in need of a nutritious meal when school is out. Support has been provided to 25 food banks across 15 states this summer through the Conagra Brands Foundation Hunger-Free Summer grant opportunity to help keep kids fed during the summer months.
But it’s more than that — for many of the food banks that serve children facing hunger every day, it’s a priority to make it possible for kids to just be kids. Check out these four ways that summer meal sites are delivering food and fun:
Kids can shop at a farmers’ market built just for them where everything is sold in $1 increments — food bank bucks, that is. The Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County in San Luis Obispo, California, hosts these Children’s Farmers’ Markets monthly, including at meal sites during the summer. While shopping down the line, children can choose to spend their food bank bucks on a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Fifth and sixth graders are the ‘vendors’ — promoting their produce (and often competing with each other to sell the most). Armed with recipe ideas and lessons about healthy eating, the children take their farmers’ market finds home, excited to share the food with their families.
There are pool parties: On hot summer days, nothing feels better as a kid than cannon balling into the local swimming pool, and that’s just what the children who turn to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg City, Pennsylvania, can do this summer. Once a week, kids who go to some of the summer meal sites facilitated by the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank head to the public pools, and lunches are delivered there, creating a mini pool party atmosphere.
Some meals come with a good book: To help encourage reading over the summer, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee partners with mobile libraries to deliver mobile meals and good reads to rural counties in Northeast Tennessee. Children can check out books from inside the mobile library, and then head outside for a dinner or snack. The mobile libraries travel to kids who can’t access the summer programs because they’re rural, so the libraries serve as the perfect way to meet these sometimes hard-to-reach children.
Children aren’t just eating food, they’re learning where it comes from, too: As part of The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri’s Farm to Table Fun Program, children get hands-on experience learning about how their fruits and veggies are grown. A retired science teacher teaches the children about farm-to-table living through activities like planting seeds, reading books about farming and even cooking easy and nutritious snacks. And the food bank is also hosting mini farmers’ markets once a week where kids can pick out produce that they’ve learned about to take home to their families.
For ideas on how to have your own fun this summer while combating hunger in your community, download our Hungry to Help Family Action Plan and get your children involved in the fight to end summer hunger ›
For millions of kids, summer is the season of hunger. Feeding America is committed to fighting that — work that is made possible from our partners Hunger Is — a joint charitable campaign of The Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, HSBC, the Joy in Childhood Foundation and the Conagra Brands Foundation.