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Three Things to Do Now to Get Ready for Summer

Blog post

Although school year priorities can often force summer planning take a back seat, investing the time now can pay off. Here are three things to focus on now to prepare for a super summer.

  1. Develop a vision for summer. If you had a magic wand, what would summer look like for children in your community? Research shows that summer plays an important role in preparing students for the academic year, and keeping students healthy is a crucial piece. Now is the time to bring together community and school leaders to initiate the conversation and identify barriers and assets, followed by actionable commitments to a community-wide summer strategy.

    California School Boards Association offers a comprehensive (and free) guide for city, school, and county office of education leaders. The guide demonstrates the need for summer learning and wellness opportunities while providing a planning timeline, resources, and funding mechanisms.
  2. Engage existing and new partners now. Now is the time to get on your partners’ radar before summer budgets and plans are finalized. Are there local businesses that can support outreach efforts or a local university that can provide volunteers? Be sure to find out if your local health department has a County Nutrition Action Plan (CNAP) workgroup to join other agencies with the shared interest in improving the health of low-income families. Use the Coalition’s CNAP Guide to Summer Meals to learn how a CNAP group can support summer meal programs. Early collaborative planning can have a positive “domino effect” on outreach efforts and securing resources for your program.
  3. Put systems in place. Making sure that your administrative processes are in place sooner rather than later can alleviate problems down the road. That means getting your vendor agreements in place, notifying your health department that you intend to operate a summer meal program, obtaining valid kitchen permits (for self prep sites) and planning for staffing, food purchasing, and contingencies.

Developing a clear plan for site training and monitoring can support a seamless relationship with summer meal sites. Another critical point: Make sure you have a fool-proof system in place for tracking costs, purchases and receipts related to the Summer Food Service Program (contact your California Department of Education [CDE] analyst at sfsp@cde.ca.gov for assistance).

And finally, to ensure outreach efforts are effective, submit your site applications to CDE as soon as you have details confirmed. Once sites have been approved by CDE, information is submitted to the National Hunger Hotline to help families find nearby summer meal sites and ensure a smooth transition to summer break.

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