Skip to main content

Top 3 Ways to Find Summer Meals in your Local Community

How is summer going to impact your family’s bottom line? Are you dreading the additional fees for summer sports, camps, and/or childcare for your kids? Or, are the potentially unreimbursed PCS costs keeping you awake at night? Unfortunately for some military families, the additional expense of meals, normally covered by the free and reduced lunch program during the school year, must be a financial consideration as well.

For a family of five with three school-aged children, the free and reduced lunch program provides a significant cost savings that helps the household budget. Did you know that 93% of the schools that serve lunch, also serve breakfast?1 That is two meals per day at little to no cost for each school-aged child when a family qualifies for the program.

Let’s look at a hypothetical family to get the full picture – this family of five consumes a total of 105 meals per week.

However, since this family qualifies for the free and reduced lunch program, they save a total of 30 meals per week when school is in session because their three children eat breakfast and lunch there five days per week. 

When summer comes around, this family of five who participated in the free and reduced lunch program now needs to budget for those extra 30 meals per week that they normally do not have to cover during the school year.

For the 15% of military and veteran family respondents who reported that food insecurity is something they experienced in our 2017 Military Family Support Programming Survey, this additional expense for our hypothetical family of five could be problematic for the household budget. “Our research shows that not all military families have enough food to feed themselves and their families,” said Shelley Kimball, Ph.D., MFAN’s director of research. “This should not be a reality for families who are devoting their lives to service, but unfortunately, it is.”

So, what can you do if you are looking at your budget and wondering how you can cover the extra meals this summer? We’ve got you covered – here are the top three ways to find summer meals in your local community:

  1. To find locations near you offering free meals to children and teens 18 years and younger, call 1-866-348-6479 or text “Summer Meals” to 97779. You can also visit the USDA Food & Nutrition Services’ “Find Summer Meals in Your Community” site at https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks to find out more about this program.
  2. Use No Kid Hungry’s Summer Meals Texting Service to find free summer meals sites in your community. All you have to do is text “FOOD” to 877-877, then the system will prompt you to enter your address or zip code so they can provide the location and service times for summer meals sites near you. To find out more, visit their website at https://www.nokidhungry.org/what-we-do/summer-meals
  3. Go to MilMap at https://militaryfamilyadvisorynetwork.org/milmap/ to find contact information for your local food bank and to learn more about summer feeding sites near you.

We believe no military or veteran family should have to worry about whether their entire family can have three healthy meals each day. Because of this belief, we brought together a group of organizations that work together to combat food insecurity among military families. The Military Family Food Insecurity Coalition members include Feeding America, the Food Research & Action Center, the National WIC Association, National Military Family Association, Armed Services YMCA, USO and United Way. We meet monthly to understand the landscape, needs, and how the nuances of military life can impact a family’s ability to provide healthy, balanced meals. “We know that with these organizations involved, we will be able to help military families put food on the table—there’s not much that’s more important than that,” said MFAN’s executive director, Shannon Razsadin.

For more information on the Military Family Food Insecurity Coalition and how to get involved, contact MFAN’s research director, Shelley Kimball, PhD at kimball@militaryfamilyadvisorynetwork.org.

 

Endnotes

  1. Food Research & Action Center. (n.d.). School breakfast program. Retrieved from http://frac.org/programs/school-breakfast-program