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Share Our Strength Survey Provides Summer Insight

Blog post

Many summer meal providers find outreach to be their biggest challenge. To develop more effective outreach strategies that draw families to summer meal programs, it is imperative that we begin with an adequate understanding of the summer landscape: The need for summer nutrition assistance; where kids are during the summer; what aspects of summer programming families find most appealing; and how they want to learn more about accessing free meals. Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices conducted a national survey that included 1,200 interviews to better understand the summer landscape. Here are some of the highlights:*

The need for nutrition assistance

  • Nationally 43% of low-income families find it harder to make ends meet during the summer and 32% sometimes find themselves without enough food during the summer months.
  • Of families that participate in the free and reduced-price lunch program, more than half (54%) find it harder to make ends meet during the summer and 43% sometimes find themselves without enough food during the summer months; 73% of families report spending more on food during the summer months than during the school year.

Where low-income children are spending time during summer

  • Most low-income children (80%) are at their homes during the summer, and even more (86%) eat lunch at home most days – so while we know where they are, we also know that they are not already in programs that can serve federally reimbursed summer meals.

Awareness of summer meal programs

  • Only 40% of low-income families report being aware of locations for free summer meals and only 17% report their child/children having received those meals.

Preferred information source to learn about summer meal programs

  • Schools are the most reliable source for receiving materials about programs, with direct mail and websites being the most desired channels to receive information about programs.

Other highlights from Share Our Strength’s March 29 webinar include:

  • Families already participating in nutrition assistance programs such as SNAP or WIC appreciated learning about local summer meal programs through those offices.
  • Messaging that resonated with families included an emphasis on how summer meal programs can help families make ends meet during the summer, offer activities in a safe, local environment, and provide healthy food for children.

Be sure to check out the presentation showcasing the survey findings and other great summer meal resources available at the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices.

*Adapted with permission from Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry campaign.

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