Resources Help Build Appetites for Summer Meals


Resources Help Build Appetites for Summer Meals

24, May 2017 8:00 AM

Free Summer Meals for Children

As many as 85 percent of children in California who rely on free or reduced lunch at school miss out on free healthy meals available from USDA during summer months. That means nearly 2 million California children are at risk of hunger because by some estimates, having kids at home over the summer without access to school meals can add as much as $300 to a family's monthly food bill.

The free summer meals program is invaluable since nutrition and academic achievement are linked. Helping kids stay healthy over the summer months means children will more likely be healthy and ready to learn when school starts up again in the fall. Find a location near you by visiting, texting "FOOD" or "COMIDA" to 877-877 or dialing 2-1-1.

Dairy Council of California is sharing resources that help sites, sponsors, volunteers and advocates fight the summer hunger gap by promoting the free, healthy meals that include milk for all kids and youth 18 and under across California. Please share these promotional resources with other community partners like schools, child care resource centers, WIC clinics, pediatrician's offices, CalFresh offices, YMCA sites, community centers, libraries and more.

Promotional Graphics

Nothing beats an all-purpose flyer that provides the essential information needed to find a local summer meal anywhere. Available in both Spanish and English, these promotional, print-ready graphics can be used as school menu backs, in newsletters or even on websites or in social media. 

Right-click on each of these images to download the files to a computer for external use. 

Sacramento Summer Lunchbox

Summer meal locations that offer enrichment activities like crafts, literacy sessions or nutrition lessons have higher rates of participation throughout the summer. The Sacramento Summer Lunchbox is filled with hundreds of low and no-cost activities that summer meals staff and volunteers can lead with youth participants. While the website mentions Sacramento, none of the resources or materials are Sacramento-specific. 

Also included in the lunchbox are customizable and static flyers that can be used to promote summer meals. Promotional materials are available in Spanish, Hmong and Russian, as pictured at left. 

In addition to flyers, the lunchbox also contains pre-scripted newsletter articles, PSA scripts that can be used for robocalls, and even social media messages and images for Twitter and Facebook. The Sacramento Summer Lunchbox is chock full of promotional , marketing and enrichment resources to make serving summer meals easier.

Special thanks to United Way, California Capital Region and the Sierra Health Foundation for leading the development and hosting of this resource.

Milk-Specific Nutrition Activities

In honor of June being National Dairy Month, Dairy Council of California developed two milk-specific activity sheets that include information on all five food groups. These resources are great for use at summer meals or local health fairs, dairy tours or as part of a nutrition education lesson.

Click on each image to be directed to downloadable activity sheets than can be saved to the desktop for printing.

Thanks to free healthy meals from USDA, administered by the California Department of Education, no child needs to go hungry when school is out of session this summer. 

To find the nearest summer meal, text "FOOD" or "COMIDA" for Spanish to 877-877, dial 2-1-1 or visit

Tags: balanced meals food access healthy eating for kids nutrition education summer meals

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