Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

Turnip the Beet! High Quality Summer Meals Award Program

Last Published: 09/05/2018

boy eating an appleThe Turnip the Beet Award recognizes outstanding Summer Meal Program sponsors across the nation who work hard to offer high quality meals to children that are appetizing, appealing, and nutritious during the summer months.

Summer meals are critical in the lives of millions of our nation’s youth, whose risk for food insecurity increases during the summer months when they no longer have access to the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Summer meal programs, including the SFSP and the Seamless Summer Option within the NSLP, present the opportunity to help alleviate summertime food insecurity and positively impact children’s growth and development by offering nutritious meals and encouraging children to develop healthy habits at a young age. High quality summer meals provide daily energy, and help make sure children are healthy and ready to learn when they return to school in the fall. The Turnip the Beet Award program was created to showcase sponsors who are going above and beyond to ensure that children in their care are receiving high-quality meals that are both nutritious and appetizing.


beetFNS launched the Turnip the Beet Award in summer 2016. One hundred eleven sponsors earned Bronze, Silver, or Goal awards in 2017. A full list of the 2017 Turnip the Beet awardees were recognized in the May 2018 edition of the FNS Summer Newsletter. The Silver and Gold Turnip the Beet awardees are featured on the USDA Blog and the Gold Turnip the Beet winners are featured on FNS’ Summer Capacity Builder.

Award Overview

beetAll Summer Meal Program sponsors, including SFSP and SSO sponsors, who are in compliance with Program requirements are eligible for a Turnip the Beet award. There are three award levels available: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Sponsors may nominate themselves or be nominated by another party. The sponsor or other party must fill out the Turnip the Beet Nomination Form (see below) and submit a one-month menu to their Summer Meals State Agency for consideration. The 2018 evaluation criteria and prizes are outlined in the 2018 Turnip the Beet Award Overview.

State Agencies establish their own due dates for submission of Turnip the Beet nominations. Sponsors should contact their Summer Meals State Agency to learn when their nomination is due. State agencies then review and forward all nominations to their FNS Regional Office by Friday, November 16, 2018. FNS will notify the 2018 winners in writing in early 2019.

Sponsors or another party must complete this form and submit it with a one-month menu to their Summer Meals State Agency to be considered for a 2018 Turnip the Beet award.

Here is a one pager that provides a quick 101 overview of the Turnip the Beet award. It is a great resource to bring to trainings and conferences to share with sponsors and other summer meal program operators and stakeholders.

Resources for Serving High Quality Meals


FNS has an abundance of resources available to sponsors to help make summer meals more appetizing, appealing, and nutritious:

  • Nutrition Guide for Sponsors includes best practices and tips for serving high quality meals and incorporating local foods, as well as sample cycle menus;
  • Team Nutrition Resource Library has free nutrition education materials to help reinforce and complement the nutrition messages taught by serving healthful foods;
  • Farm to Summer website has an abundance of ideas for “bringing the farm” to summer sites, using local foods to improve meal quality, and keeping kids engaged with hands-on activities;
  • Summer Meals Toolkit offers healthy menu planning ideas and tips for serving meals family style; and
  • Smarter Lunchroom Strategies are free or low-cost solutions that nudge children to voluntarily select the healthiest food. While these strategies are designed for schools, they can easily be adapted for summer sites.