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Transforming Local Businesses into Summer Meal Partners

Blog post

Are you engaging local businesses as summer meal program supporters? Businesses can help offset program costs while also building a stronger relationship with the community. Local businesses can recruit volunteers, provide financial or in-kind donations, or help promote your program.

While for-profit organizations cannot be a summer meal sponsor, offering them an opportunity to support local programs can be mutually beneficial. Some things to consider:

  • Identify what you need. Do you need volunteers, giveaway prizes, promotion, or help underwriting the cost of jump-ropes?
  • Remember that cash isn’t everything. Perhaps the local car dealership can’t hand you $1,000 but  it is willing to work with its radio station partner to negotiate its ad-buy to include some additional free air-time for summer meal program promotional ads. Providing corporate volunteers can also be a priceless gift — and summer meal programs are well suited for a lunch hour commitment. Perhaps a local bio-tech company can provide some simple materials and a few volunteers to do Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) activities with kids.
  • Provide a range of options. Create a menu that lists a range of clear, tangible options to support your program (e.g., 5×5 option includes five days of five volunteers). A menu may help business leaders pick and choose from options to create something that works for both sides.
  • What will you provide in return? Be thoughtful in presenting the potential benefits to local businesses. Why is it in their best interest? Be clear about promotion expectations (e.g., Will the corporate logo appear on all promotional materials or on a small sign?)
  • Be accountable. Whether its a large company with a board and shareholders to report to or a small business planning for next year, provide businesses with something to show that their contribution mattered.

Local businesses help our communities thrive. And their support for summer meal programs can in turn help ensure the children in our communities thrive.

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