Kids Come for Activities, Stay for Food
Dairy Council of California Helps Communities Open Windows of Healthy Opportunity With Summer Meal Activities and Promotional ResourcesHaga Clic Aquí Para Leer En Español
When schools close for summer break, the door on good nutrition may also shut for the 2 million California children who rely on free and reduced meals at school but miss out on USDA’s Summer Food Service Program.
Missing out on healthy meals and milk over the summer months negatively impact children’s health and put them at an academic disadvantage come fall. Summer breakfasts and lunches provide food from all five food groups for all kids and teens 18 and under, no paperwork required.
At summer meal sites, nutritious foods aren’t the only benefit. “When it comes to kids and teens, having something to do can be even more appealing than something to eat,” said Alyson Foote, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, project manager for Dairy Council of California. “That’s why we are working with community organizations, nonprofits, schools, libraries and more to provide fun activities and free promotional resources for summer meals to keep healthy eating on the menu for all California children 18 and under this summer.”
In Sacramento and San Bernardino counties, Dairy Council of California has worked in community partnerships, called summer meals collaboratives, focused on increasing summer meal locations and participation. Sites that provide engagement activities like STEM or literacy programs tend to have higher participation throughout the summer months. Thanks to widespread community outreach led by local schools and activity-based programs like Lunch at the Library, meal participation during summer 2017 increased 15 percent in Sacramento County and more than doubled in San Bernardino County.
Free resources communities can use to offer activities and increase summer meals participation.
@HealthyEating helps communities keep kids fueled for learning this summer. To find a #SummerMeal location, text FOOD to 877-877, dial 211 or download the CA Healthy Kids App. Tweet
“Joining a local summer meals collaborative is a great way to network and share resources from your local farmers, chefs, nutritionists and public health educators. It is truly building a program for the community by the community,” said Vince Caguin, director of nutrition services & warehousing at Natomas Unified School District and founding member of the Sacramento Summer Meals Collaborative. “I challenge my colleagues across the state to connect with or start up a local summer meals collaborative and add a couple more sites for this summer. Together we can have a tremendous and positive impact on the health of California’s children.”
Everyone can get involved to open windows of opportunity to keep activities and healthy meals on the menu for California’s children this summer. Schools are a trusted source of information for parents. Before school is out, consider adding summer meals information to school websites, sending home information with students and scheduling updates on social channels like Facebook and Twitter to keep parents and students informed. School foodservice departments can also consider adding summer meals information on menu backs. For sample newsletter text, social media posts and more, visit FuelYourSummer.org, a free toolkit created by the Sacramento Summer Meals Collaborative led by United Way California Capital Region.
About Dairy Council of California
For nearly a century, Dairy Council of California has empowered stakeholders, including educators, health professionals and communities, to elevate the health of children and parents through the pursuit of lifelong healthy eating habits. Funded by California's dairy farm families and local milk processors, Dairy Council of California's science-based nutrition education resources, Mobile Dairy Classroom assemblies, training programs and online tools reach millions in California and throughout the United States. Learn more at HealthyEating.org.