A robust outreach plan is an important element of a successful summer meal program. As surprisingly as it may sound, families are simultaneously bombarded with information yet often do not receive some of information we’d like them to have. Your outreach plan should incorporate a variety of methods to ensure that information about your summer meal program reaches its intended audience. For summer meal providers with multiple sites, tailoring your outreach may require a little more work up front, but is more likely to bring positive results.
It all begins with knowing your audience. Who are they? What places do they frequent in the community? Is English the first language? Starting with an adequate understanding of your audience and where they are likely to see your message can help you effectively communicate about your summer meal program.
The word “free” is often not enough to sell the program so be sure to also promote the activities at or near your summer meal site. Flyers from and the offer just a few examples. Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign conducted focus groups of low-income parents in Denver and Baltimore that yielded results that can help inform your messaging strategy. No Kid Hungry’s Center for Best Practices offers additional resources that can support your outreach efforts.
In addition to a message that is clear (and jargon-free), the messenger also matters. Faith-based leaders, teachers, principals, community health workers/promotoras, and pediatricians have established relationships with families and welcome opportunities to support their constituents.
Sample Welcome letters: