Children need nutritious meals to learn, grow and thrive- even when school is out.
With the Summer Meals Program, children and teens ages 18 and younger, and enrolled students with disabilities up to 21 years old can continue to eat healthy throughout summer AT NO COST.
The USDA works closely with states to ensure that children who receive on free or reduced-price school meals can get the nutrition they need when schools are closed – whether during summer break or unexpected closures during the school year. Through USDA's summer meal programs, approved sites in communities across the country can serve meals to kids at no cost.
How does the program work?
Summer food service programs are free meals for kids and teens up to 18. They make meals available to kids when school is out in June, July, and August. You may also hear them called free summer meal or lunch programs.
Kids and teens can just show up during the scheduled meal hours and receive a free meal. Some summer programs provide breakfast and lunch. You don't need to fill out paperwork or show proof of income. Most sites offer meals that can be eaten in-person or on the go.
Who administers the Program?
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally-funded, state-administered program. USDA reimburses program operators who serve no-cost, healthy meals and snacks to children and teens in low-income areas. Sponsors provide free meals and snacks to children who come to eat at a central site, such as a school or a community center. They receive payments from USDA for the meals and snacks they serve through their State agencies. Sites may be located in a variety of settings, including schools, parks, community centers, libraries, farmers’ markets, apartment complexes, churches, and migrant centers. Sites may also choose to offer enrichment opportunities for children, such as reading, physical activity, or nutrition education.
How Can Children and Teens Participate in SFSP?
Children 18 and younger may receive free meals and snacks at any open SFSP site. Meals and snacks are also available through SFSP to persons with disabilities who are over age 18 and participate in school programs for people with mental or physical disabilities.
Online- Find a summer site in your community with our online Summer Meal Finder mapping tool. As of June 8, 2023 the site finder has data for 40 states, and includes: AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV.
Text- You can also text “Summer Meals” to 914-342-7744. Or, text the word FOOD to 304-304. You’ll get a message with nearby locations
Call- Calling the USDA Hotline at 1-866-348-6479 is another great way to find free summer food service programs in your area.
Special Programs with Meals
For many of the food banks that serve children facing hunger every day, it’s a priority to make it possible for kids to just be kids. Check out these four examples of ways that summer meal sites are delivering food and fun: