Building a Summer Meals program in your community

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally-funded child nutrition program that provides reimbursement to local organizations that provide free, nutritious meals to low-income children and teens, 18 years and younger, when school meal programs are not available. Washington’s SFSP, also known as the Summer Meals Program, can offer up to two meals per day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or snacks.

Washington’s statewide Summer Meals Partnership has developed a Toolkit that can help community-based organizations identify needs, partners, outreach strategies and resources in communities to start or strengthen summer meal programs for kids. Using the information here, your organization can start now to plan how community partners can work together to feed hungry children in the summer.

Start or Expand a Community Summer Meals Program

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) administers the WA Summer Meals Program. To learn more about Summer Meals in your community or to get information about becoming a sponsor or site, visit OSPI Summer Food Service Program website, or contact OSPI Summer Food Service Program staff Jennifer Mitchell, (360) 725-6056.

To learn more about promoting a Summer Meals program in your community, contact Tracy Anderson, Senior Manager of Community Engagement at WithinReach, (206) 830-7646.

The Summer Meals Resource Toolkit for WA Communities

How organizations can support Summer Meals

Nonprofits, schools, public entities (like cities or counties), and tribes can sponsor Summer Meals programs or host a meal site. Organizations don’t have to sponsor a program to help make it successful – working in partnership with your local program and spreading the word about it to your clients, colleagues and neighbors is a great way to ensure a program’s success.

These guides explain how the program works, point you to great resources and offer ideas about how to make your program great:

Getting Organized for Summer Meals

It’s never too early to think about how to build a strong Summer Meals program in your community. Here is a great planning timeline with tips on what to do in the fall, winter, and spring to ensure the summertime is a great success. View the Planning Timeline

Planning is easier if you know who to talk to, learn what happened in previous summers and where the service gaps are and find eligible site locations for next year. Program sponsors may have a single site where meals are served, or they may have multiple sites. Summer meal sites are located in schools, parks, recreation centers, community-based and faith-based organizations and camps. Sites may be open all or part of the summer; every day or a few days per week, depending on your community’s programs.

Summer Meals Locations Search Tool

Use the Summer Meals search tool and find information about site locations, sponsors, days of operation and more. Meal site locations for Summer 2014 will be listed beginning in June. For questions about summer meals, call the Family Food Hotline 1-888-4-FOOD-WA (1-888-436-6392), 8am–5:30pm, M-F.

Summer Meals Site Eligibility

Eligible sites are in areas where more than half the kids are enrolled in free or reduced-price meals, or where census data indicates that more than half an area’s residents are low-income. Use the tools below to help you explore eligible summer meal sites. Site eligibility must be confirmed with Jennifer Mitchell at OSPI.

FRAC Summer Food Mapper (You must use Internet Explorer)
Search by address to see if the location is within the census requirement.
1. Click on FIND.
2. Enter the full street address with zip code, and click FIND.
3. Scroll down for results below the map. If it indicates YES, then the site qualifies. 

Summer Meals Fact Sheets by County (including 2014 eligible schools)
The fact sheets show 2013 sponsors, meal sites, days of operation, and participation numbers by county, and updated with schools eligible to qualify as summer meal sites in 2014. 

OSPI Training for Summer Meal Program Sponsors

Each spring OSPI offers a mandatory Summer Meals Program workshop to train potential sponsors on Summer Meals program requirements. You can attend the training without obligation to sponsor a program. You must complete the Intent to Participate Application and attend the training/workshop to become a sponsor. Program information, the Intent to Participate as a Sponsor Application and training dates below. Contact Amber Horan for more information (360-725-6202).

Funding Opportunities for Summer Meal Programs

Get funding for Summer Meal programs in Washington. Below are grant opportunities available in 2014.

Feed Your Brain Grants for Rural Communities

School’s Out Washington offers Feed Your Brain grants for summer literacy and summer meal programs for kids in rural, high poverty communities. Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded to selected schools, organizations, and tribes. Applications due by 3/28/2014. Learn more

Food Lifeline Grants for Western Washington

Food Lifeline is expanding its Kids Cafe Summer Feeding Program, which is part of the Summer Meals Program. If you are located in Western Washington, contact Rebecca Van maren, Kids Cafe Coordinator, 206 545-6600 x3606. Applications due by 4/4/2014. Kids Cafe program application.

OSPI Meals for Kids Summer Grants

Grants for start-up or expansion of Summer Meal programs that can fund equipment, training and outreach in any Washington community. Applications due by 4/4/2014.

United Way of King County Start Up & Expansion Grants

United Way of King County offers grants to increase participation or expand access to summer meals in King County. Funds can be used for equipment, activities, incentives, staff and outreach. Apply between 3/10- 5/15. Learn more.

New Resources for Sponsors and Sites

A rich listing of summer meal resources from national experts and programs across the country. Includes policy updates, raising awareness, menus and more! Download the new resources for 2014.

Summer Meals Outreach: Advertise Effectively!

Summer Meal Programs are successful only if kids show up at meal time. Here are some outreach ideas and materials from national, state and local organizations to make parents and kids feel good about coming to your Summer Meals Program all summer long:

Children in cafeteria