Volunteer and Help End Hunger
While government programs provide a nutrition safety net for millions of Americans, people are still hungry. Many of our most valuable resources in the fight against hunger lie within the individual communities where hunger is most prevalent. Providing volunteers to capable organizations will energize the fight to end hunger.
This is one reason why the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Corporation for National and Community Service have teamed up to help you find volunteer opportunities to fight hunger in your community. In addition, on Serve.gov, you can find out more about hunger in the U.S. and learn how to start your own project with toolkits.
If you are an organization interested in partnering with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to end hunger in your community, please visit the USDA’s Partnerships & Outreach page.
USDA Summer Meal Programs
During the school year, children from low-income families receive free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program. Free and reduced-price school meals help families on a tight budget and give students the proper nutrition they need to learn, grow, and play. But when school lets out, these free and reduced-price school meals are no longer available and students are at risk of going hungry or being malnourished. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Meal Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option, are here to provide kids and teens in low-income areas free summer meals when school is out.
What are the USDA Summer Meal Programs?
They are federally-funded but state-administered programs. They reimburse providers, including schools, public entities, non-profits and religious organizations serving free healthy meals to youngsters in the summer months when school is not in session.
Who Does the Program Serve?
Children and teens age 18 and younger.
How Does It Work?
There are three main entities involved: state agencies, sponsors, and sites.
State agencies administer the program and communicate with USDA.
Sponsors run the program and communicate with the state agency. Schools, local government agencies, camps, faith-based and other non-profit community organizations that have the ability to manage a food service program may be SFSP sponsors.
Sites are places in the community where children receive free meals in a safe and supervised environment. Sites may be located in a variety of settings, including schools, parks, community centers, apartment complexes, churches, and migrant centers. Sites work directly with sponsors.
How Can You Get Involved?
As a Formal Volunteer
- First - See what’s going on your in community! Check out the Summer Meal Site Locator – identify your local Summer Meals site.
- Second - Contact your state agency to link up with your local summer meal program. They will facilitate the connection for you.
- Third – Have fun! To see Summer Meal Programs in action – check out these great videos to get a taste of what you’re in for.
As an Informal Volunteer
Spread the word! Promote Summer Meal Programs to in your community! Share flyers with information on where free summer meals are being served or with the National Hunger Hotline number (1-866-3-HUNGRY; en español: 1-877-8-HAMBRE) that can help families find a nearby summer meals site.
Summer Food Service Program website
It’s back-to-school time. In the upcoming weeks, children across the country will be asked this quintessential question: “What did you do this summer?” The answer for nearly 3,000 Baltimore elementary students may surprise you.
Nearly half of Ohio’s school children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, and many of these children do not have access to adequate nutrition during the summer months. This lack of access to adequate nutrition has been linked to poorer academic performance, which can easily perpetuate the vicious cycle of poverty.
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Site Last Updated: January 12, 2015