Free Summer Meals for Kids

Elijah enjoys a healthy lunch at school

Free summer lunches are available in your community. You can find them at community centers, park districts, schools, and churches. 

In the Summer of 2022, the Feeding America network served over 24 million meals through the Backpack ProgramSchool Pantry Program, and summer feeding sites. 

What are summer food service programs?

Summer food service programs are free meals for kids and teens up to 18. They make meals available to kids when school is out in June, July, and August. You may also hear them called free summer meal or lunch programs.

Kids and teens can just show up during the scheduled meal hours and receive a free meal. Some summer programs provide breakfast and lunch. There may also be summer activities or learning programs available during mealtimes. You don't need to fill out paperwork or show proof of income.

How do I find a 2023 summer meal program in my community?

Summer meal programs can be difficult to find, so here are three easy ways to find your nearest free meal site.

  • Text: You can find meal programs near you by texting the word FOOD to 304-304, thanks to our friends at No Kid Hungry. You’ll get a message with nearby locations. Data and message rates may apply.

  • Call: Calling the USDA Hotline at 1-866-348-6479 is another great way to find free summer food service programs in your area.
  • Ask Your Local Food Bank: Search by zip code or state using the food bank locator and contact the nearest food bank. Even if the food bank looks far away, they often work with meal programs closer to your home.

Find Your Local Food Bank


How are the summer meal programs funded?

Some summer meal programs are funded by the federal government through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Food banks then purchase and deliver these meals to existing youth programs within your community.

What can I do to help?

Summer meal programs can be hard to find, and many families don’t know they’re available. The best way to help is by sharing information with your neighbors about how they can get free meals during the summer if they are in need. If your family visited summer meal programs, share your story and tell people it’s okay to need help sometimes.

If you’re interested in doing more to help fight summer hunger, you can: