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Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

Summer Meals Toolkit

Last Published: 05/12/2016

USDA’s summer meal programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option, rely on innovative and collaborative efforts to reach children in need. USDA encourages collaborations with valued partners at National, State, and local levels to raise awareness about the nutrition gap low-income children face when schools close for the summer and the availability of summer meals.

The Summer Meals Toolkit is designed for individuals and organizations interested in serving as Summer Meal champions in their communities at any level of program administration. This toolkit includes tips for getting the word out through community-based outreach, information on Program policy and administration, ideas for planning and collaborating with stakeholders, and shares Program resources and best practices.

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


Budgeting for Summer

Budgeting for Success
Allowable 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

Public and Indian Housing
Your State Agency is There to Help
Let's Move Cities, Towns and Counties
How to Recruit Sites
Building a Summer Meals Coalition
Partnering with Faith-Based Organizations
Teaming Up With Libraries
Working with Schools
Partnering with WIC
Partnerships: Department of Defense
Partnerships: Department of Transportation
Partnerships: Rural Development

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

Teen Showing Off His Meal


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

Site 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