Summer Meals Toolkit

Last Published: 06/22/2016

Summer Meal Programs rely on innovation and collaboration to reach children who need good nutrition when school is out of session. This toolkit gives State administrators, Program operators, and community partners creative ideas and resources to make Summer Meal planning easy, raise awareness, overcome barriers, and serve nutritious food that is appealing to children. While you are here, be sure to check out this month’s Summer Meals Newsletter!

Food Service Worker Preparing Plates of Food

Program Planning, Budgeting and Administration

Planning for Success

State Management and Administrative Plan
Proactive Planning for Partners
Proactive Planning for Sponsors
Partnerships - Sponsors and Sites

Budgeting for Summer

Budgeting for Success
Assessing Costs
Additional Funding Sources

Operating Your Program

Schools Operating the Summer Seamless Option
Keeping Experienced Sponsors in the Program
Site Recruitment Strategies

Best Practices

Tips for State Agencies
Tips for Sponsors

Children Enjoying a Meal

Partnering for Success

Rural Development Multi-Family Housing Communities
Public and Indian Housing
Your State Agency is There to Help
Let's Move Cities, Towns and Counties
Building a Summer Meals Coalition
Partnering with Faith-Based Organizations
Teaming Up With Libraries
Working with Schools
Head Start
Department of Defense
Department of Transportation
Rural Development

Teen Showing Off His Meal

Marketing and Communications

Traditional and Social Media

Building Your Brand
Working with Reporters
News Releases and Story Pitching
Twitter Town Halls
Sample Tweets and Facebook Posts

Summer Meal Champions

Summer Meal Champions: Governors
Summer Meal Champions: Mayors
Summer Meal Champions: Community Leaders
Summer Meal Champions: State Superintendents

USDA Summer Meal Outreach Materials

USDA Promotional Materials
PSAs and Radio Advertisements
Sample Letter to Tribal Leaders
Sample Letter to School Principals
Sample Letter to School Food Service Directors


Servings of Fresh Vegetables

Increasing Participation

Program Outreach

Sponsor Outreach Tips
Outreach to Teens
School Outreach
Targeted Expansion
Using Data
Site Promotion Tips for Sponsors
Site Promotion Tips for States

Reaching Underserved Areas

Intergenerational Meals
Reaching Unserved and Underserved Areas
Reaching Tribal Youth
Rural Challenges and Summer Meals
Addressing Transportation Challenges
Mobile Feeding Model

Site Activities and Events

Site Programming
Hosting Events
Partnering with First Book
Nutrition Education Activities

Plate of Veggie Kabobs

Vending and Serving Quality Meals

Planning the Meal

Meal Service Options
Planning Healthy Summer Meals
Sample Menu Options

Serving the Meals

Meal Pattern Requirements
How to Establish Meal Service Times
How to Do Offer Versus Serve
Successful Congregate Feeding
Serving Family Style Meals
Serving Adult Meals
Leftover Meals

Farm to Summer

Farm to Summer - State Agencies
Farm to Summer – Sponsors
Partnering with Farmers Markets
Farm to Summer Fact Sheet

Girl With Sunglasses at a Meal Site

Regulations and Policy

Introduction to Summer Meals

Summer Meals 101
Summer Meal FAQs

Policy Tips and Resources

Policy Resources
Program Policy Simplifications
Health Inspection Tips
Food Safety