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Utilizing Data

Local data can be used to strengthen your summer meal programs and better meet the needs of your community. Census information regarding hunger and poverty-related projects and free and reduced-price lunch participation rates are helpful data sources to use when advocating for the program. The FNS Capacity Builder, which pulls data from a variety of sources, is one particularly helpful data tool state agencies and sponsors can use when mapping their sites.

Spotlight on Chicago, Illinois!

The Chicago Summer Food Work Group meets year-round, bringing together local and state-wide community organizations, public agencies, and sponsors to strategize on ways to effectively meet the need for summer meals programs in the Chicago area. Members include the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Food Service Professionals, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, Chicago Housing Authority, Greater Chicago Food Depository, and Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign.

Mapping tools have helped members of the work group focus on ensuring that children of all racial and ethnic backgrounds have access to summer meals at culturally-competent sites. The members also collaborate on outreach and strategies to ensure that children have access to nutritious meals at safe and trusted neighborhood sites. For this work group, mapping out the locations of all the sites in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs is essential to ensure that sites do not overlap and are located in areas of need.

For more information, read Summer Meals: Serving Chicago's Many Neighborhoods.

What worked to make summer meals a success?

  • Ability to leverage community resources.
  • Direct contact with sponsors from previous summers.
  • State agency support.
  • State partner meetings.
  • Strong partners, and
  • Use of existing data to identify underserved areas.

Want to learn more? Go to the summer toolkit!

Page updated: May 18, 2023