June 11, 2018

5 Ways to Make Your Summer Meal Program Shine

This post is part of Healthier Generation’s summer blog series highlighting creative ways to keep kids fed, active and engaged all summer long.

Summer is finally here which means it’s time to promote the summer meal sites in your community! Check out these five tips to make the most of your meal program and keep kids well-fed all summer long.

 
1. Get Creative, Stand Out!

Promote your program by creating flyers and asking local businesses to help disseminate them. Place posters in the windows at your site or post yard signs for all to see. Conduct public service announcements with the local radio station (PSAs) or place an ad in the local paper to ensure families are aware of your summer meal program. The more that know where your site is located, the more kids will come to eat! Check out these resources for sample flyers and PSAs. Be sure to use friendly language/signage to let families know that kids eat free.

 

2. Make Meals Fun!

Ensure meals are both nutritious and appealing. When it comes to serving meals, it is important to make the site inviting. Try turning the meal site into a picnic by adding a tablecloth and bringing pitchers of water to the table. Find out what kids want by holding a taste test and introducing new foods to see what kids like best. Try cutting up whole fruit to make it easier for kids to consume.

 

3. Add Activities!

Summer meal programs are more than an opportunity to feed kids. Fun physical activities are a great way to boost attendance at your summer meal site. Create fitness trail stations to get kids moving or incorporate these fun ideas to spice up your program.

 

4. Coordinate with Other Local Organizations!

Connect with your local library and see if they have a bookmobile that could visit; contact your local fire department to talk about fire safety, or reach out to your local park ranger and ask if they can provide demonstrations. Utilizing organizations within your community creates fun partnerships and entertainment.

 

5. Engage Families and Volunteers!

Ask for volunteers who can offer a hand and additional support, by leading activities to engage kids or just helping spread the word in their neighborhood! Don’t forget to explore other youth programs in the area and consider inviting them to your open meal site.

For more ideas on how to take your summer food site to the next level, check out these summer programs that achieved gold and silver standards of excellence. Additionally, join us and the Food Research & Action Center for a webinar on Wednesday, June 20 at 1:00 p.m. EST to learn additional tools to engage families as well as activities that integrate social, emotional and academic development.

Check out this map to find a local USDA Summer Meal site near you!