Measuring Summer Meals
In 2015, the Partnership established a goal is to achieve 100,000 Average Daily Participation and an increase in 1,000,000 summer meals by 2020.
Average Daily Participation
Summer Meals Data
Summer Meals Program
Summer is one of the hungriest times of the year for low income kids and their families. Over the summer kids are at a higher risk of both obesity and hunger, with hunger being directly related to learning loss during this time. Summer meals programs aim to alleviate this, however only 15% of children who qualify for free and reduced meals at school also receive meals during the summer months. This leaves a gap in their nutrition and learning that we are trying to solve by increasing the number of summer meals served in Maryland. Summer meals programs can help improve a child’s academic and physical well being by providing healthy nutrition to children and teens 18 and under.
While school is out for the summer, meals are still available at places in the community which provide food as well as a safe area to learn and play. The summer meal program is funded by the USDA and served by organizations like schools, libraries, faith-based organizations, and community groups, who all help make sure that kids have access to nutritious meals when school is out of session.
KEEP KIDS LEARNING
Consumption of nutritious food not only supports better cognitive functioning in the summer, it also positions children from low-income families to learn and perform well once they return to the classroom. By providing meals over the summer for kids who may otherwise not receive them, we can support the continued brain development necessary to maintain academic achievements made during the school year. This ensures that kids can come back to school ready to learn and without any summer learning loss.
KEEP KIDS SAFE
Summer meals sites are designed to provide a safe area in which kids can interact with their peers and participate in group activities. Creating a place where kids are in engaged in educational programs helps with learning retention as they prepare to enter into the school year and fosters a creative environment. Additionally, by participating in group sports or games kids are able to spend time with their friends in a way that encourages good moral choices and behaviors outside of the structure of school.
KEEP KIDS LEARNING
Physically, children from low-income households may gain weight two to three times faster during the summer than during the school year. Because federal summer nutrition programs must provide meals that meet approved nutritional standards, they may mitigate summer weight gain and, in the longer term, make kids less susceptible to chronic diseases and mental illness. Without access to nutritious summer meals, children from low-income families are more likely to suffer from food insecurity and may gain weight as they resort to less healthy, but easily accessible, food options.
There are many barriers that exist that keep kids from getting meals over the summer, including but not limited to:
- Lack of awareness about summer sites from both parents and kids
- Not having transportation to a summer site
- Kids worried about the stigmas surrounding receiving a free meal
As a partnership we are working on overcoming these obstacles by boosting awareness through posters and a texting hotline. Additionally, alternative delivery models such as food trucks are being used to increase participation in high need areas. By providing a group activity or event at the site it encourages more kids to come and receive a free lunch while not feeling singled out due to their need.
This summer, text FOOD to 877-877, call 211, or visit MDsummermeals.org to find a walk-in meal site near you. No registration or identification required.