Summer Food Program

Generously sponsored by Walmart


Join Us at an Open Site This Summer

Let's partner up to fuel your child's future through healthy meals, fun activities and new friends. Visit Find a Y or download a full list of participating locations to locate a summer food program open site in your community.

Join Us at a Summer Food Program Open Site

Enter your city, state, or zip code to locate a participating open site for the summer food program in your communuity.

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Feeding Bodies, Fueling Success

When the final school bells ring and summer break begins, millions of kids are at risk of going hungry. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, around 16.7 million children receive free or reduced-cost meals through the National School Lunch Program, but only 2.3 million of these kids continue to receive meals through the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program.

As part of our commitment to keeping kids healthy, the Y and Walmart Foundation are partnering to provide 4.7 million meals and snacks to 200,000 kids and teens at 1,100 locations in communities throughout the nation this summer. Any child 18 and under can participate in the program to get their “fill of food and fun” – receiving nutritious meals and snacks, while also enjoying recreational and learning activities to keep their bodies and minds active.

Summer Food Blog

From preparing healthy meals to meeting new friends, YMCAs participating in this year's summer food program walk us through their thoughts and activities.  Join us for an exclusive, inside look at the summer food program from the very staff and volunteers running the program!

Empowering Youth

by Robert Calvillo
YMCA of Greater San Antonio (San Antonio, TX)
posted on 7/2/15

“Traditional”, “historical” and “generational” are a few words to describe the community in the Westside of San Antonio. A one mile stretch of road along Brazos Street serves as the hub of services for families living in the Alazan Courts, one of the first and largest public housing complex in San Antonio. Youth growing up in this community attend elementary, middle school and high school at the campuses located on Brazos Street just steps from one another.  In the center of this neighborhood is the Alazan Community Center, which the YMCA of Greater San Antonio has provided consistent services over the previous six years.  A large population that goes underserved in this community is teenagers and college bound youth.

Nutrition is a component that goes beyond program participation. A hot meal at lunchtime and a healthy snack in the afternoon is free to all program participants and all youth community members.  Along with nourishment, enrichment is this focus for this summer programing. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) with an emphasis on health education, higher education and service to others is also incorporated into the daily schedule.

In partnership with Texas A&M, teens learn how to write computer code that will ultimately control a robot that is located miles up in space at the International Space Station. The teens spend three hours per day practicing by writing code in a trial-and-error method to see if their code is progressing. The end result will be in August when the Alazan Robotics Club competes against other youth from across the country at NASA in Houston, TX.  Through this partnership teens are literally exploring the final frontier and breaking beyond that one-mile radius.

Through support of the Texas A&M, Walmart Foundation, United Way and the City of San Antonio, lunches, snack and programing is free to residents in the Alazan Courts.

The Beginning

by Robert Calvillo
YMCA of Greater San Antonio (San Antonio, TX)
posted on 6/30/15

Out of school time in the summer is usually seen as vacation and fun time for youth. No alarm clocks ringing before the sun rises, no homework assignments filling their evening hours and no weekly quizzes building up anxiety week after week. However summer time also means a disruption of daily and weekly routines established throughout the school year for parents. This also includes the security of receiving a nutritional meal during the school day.

At the Davis-Scott Family YMCA in San Antonio, Texas, the leadership team recognizes the need to provide enrichment and nutrition to families whose routine is disrupted during the summer when school is not in session. Youth Express and Teen & Enrichment programs provide opportunities for youth 2-18 years old to receive a hot meal and snack daily, as well as participate in a variety of activities that promote literacy, physical activity and health education.

Youth Express and Teen & Enrichment programs are free to families in the Davis-Scott community and rehabilitates daily routines. With only a few weeks into summer, both programs combined are providing services to 277 youth.  The YMCA of Greater San Antonio receives support from United Way, the Eastside Promise Neighborhood and the Walmart Foundation to make programs like these free and accessible to families at the Davis-Scott Family YMCA.

No Swimming And Eating!

by Jackie Grant
YMCA of Roanoke Valley (Roanoke, VA)
posted on 6/28/15

At least that’s what your mother always told you, right? Well, these kids got both at once!

As part of our YMCA’s summer feeding program, each Friday we feed children at a local community pool called Washington Park in Roanoke, Virginia. The YMCA of Roanoke Valley gave healthy lunches to 75 children, and then the children had an opportunity to swim for free.

The YMCA of Roanoke Valley manages the city pool on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the summer, and allows the neighborhood children to visit even though they don’t have the $3.00 entrance fee.

In addition to Y staff, the Roanoke City Police Department also came out to serve the youth lunch. It was a great opportunity, mostly because it allowed the students to make a positive connection with their local authority and view police as friends. The police officers passed out badge stickers to any child that wanted to “join the force.”

Can you even imagine 75 students being served by their local police force? We are hoping to make more connections like this in the future. Now you can tell your mom that food and swimming does actually work.

The Beginning

by Jackie Grant
YMCA of Roanoke Valley (Roanoke, VA)
posted on 6/26/15

It was amazing to see.

The kids were all sitting down at their tables. Some kids opened their milk first, while others decided they would rather have some broccoli with ranch dressing. Some, on the other hand, reached for the tuna sandwich. Either way, these kids all had one thing in common: they were each receiving a free healthy meal that they may not have had if they didn’t come to the library. That was day one of our YMCA of Roanoke Valley’s anti-hunger initiative. 

This summer, five public libraries in Roanoke, Virginia in collaboration with the YMCA of Roanoke Valley are offering a summer feeding and reading program. The youth that come not only receive a nutritious meal, but also have an opportunity for enrichment, as they participate in reading and other fun activities.

Today, the students at one site enjoyed making play dough using detergent booster, food coloring, and glue. It was a sticky situation at first, but it turned out well as each child can happily display their creation.

Being able to feed and read is a huge asset, in that it not only gives the youth an opportunity to receive a nutritious meal, it also allows youth to increase their knowledge through fun and interactive activities.

Did I mention that the kids enjoyed it?

Good, just making sure. We are glad to be able to serve the youth in Roanoke. And to think, this is only day one….

Where there is a will, There is a Y!

by Ricky Wright
YMCA of Lansing (Lansing, MI)
posted on 6/24/15

One of the great parts about working for the YMCA of Lansing is seeing the impact we have in our local communities.  Making that impact starts with the ability to recognize the need.  In Lansing, MI our YMCA has made it a priority to offer enrichment activities and year round food programs to the pockets of our communities that need it most. 

After some careful consideration we realized as an organization we were uniquely qualified to reach a growing population--refugees newly settled to the Lansing, MI area. The program began at our Downtown Wellness location, right in the heart of Downtown Lansing.

The goal for the program is to give refugee parents the tools needed to be advocates to help their children succeed in Lansing, and to teach the family unit basic understanding of societal norms.  The program provides acculturation, not assimilation.  Participants in the program complete a pre and post survey that measures their views on their acclimation to American cultural norms, according to each of the topics presented in the curriculum, and their ability to confidently address their children’s needs. 

Long term, we believe the program will help parents build skills to obtain jobs, advocate for their children’s education, and maintain a healthy, happy home life.     

As the program began we recognized that many of the families were living well below the poverty level and were not experiencing healthy and nutritious meals or snacks on a daily basis.  The Y began providing meals to these families as part of the classes and then expanded into serving these meals in the apartment complex where they primarily lived.  Having recognized that access to adequate nutrition was an issue (i.e. transportation) we moved the meals to them. 

This has led to the creation of the very first YMCA of Lansing mobile kitchen, set to roll out in July of 2015.  This “kitchen” has been very generously donated by our areas largest transportation company and strong community advocate. We cannot wait to see the impact that our rolling kitchen will make in community pockets all over Lansing, the Tri County area and even Central Michigan!  Our resident camp Mystic Lake YMCA Camp is located 100 miles north of Lansing and we plan to take our kitchen on the road.

"Happy Cow" and "Sad Cow"!

by Renea Wood
The YMCA of Klamath Falls (Klamath Falls, OR)
posted on 6/18/15

Hurrying through our process of cost effective, efficient foods in our Year Round Food Programs we seldom slow down and really reflect on how we can make food more attractive to kids.  We often miss the big picture: What can we do to encourage kids to eat?  Sometime a little more prep time and little salesmanship can make all the difference.

At our YMCA we have learn that sometimes it’s all in the presentation and sometimes its’ how you sell it.  We’ve mixed things up by placing peanut butter on spoons or in dipping cups so kids can eat it how they want.  We’ve even been known to make butterflies out of cheese.  But, the most important thing we have learned with preschoolers is talking about the cow that worked hard on making the milk encourages milk drinking. 

Our head Preschool Teacher has developed the “Happy Cow” and “Sad Cow” meal time.  She realized that the image of a happy cow on the carton of milk was frowning at her when she dumps out large amounts of remaining milk.   She started talking more about the hard working cow that makes delicious milk to help build strong kids. 

Happy Cow = most of the milk was drank by the child
Sad Cow = a lot of milk remained in the milk carton

As she drains the remaining milk of each child’s carton she engages the whole lunch group so everyone can get excited when there is a Happy Cow in the group and be sad when there is a Sad Cow in the bunch. Milk consumption shot up after the introduction of Happy Cow.  Now everyone gets excited at the end of lunch time, waiting to see how many Happy Cows there are in the room.

Try “Happy Cow” with your kids this year, and you too can have a Happy Cow Summer!

Community Collaborations Are the Key!

by Renea Wood
The YMCA of Klamath Falls (Klamath Falls, OR)
posted on 6/15/15

In the past, childhood hunger in our county has been handled piecemeal by various nonprofits. As a result, no single entity has been held accountable to ensure no kid goes hungry...

Until now.  Klamath Basin Summer Food Program Coalition is committed to ending childhood hunger in Klamath County, and we’re rallying and uniting the various organizations and entities needed to make this a reality.

While there are many of campaigns nationwide, we work on a local level through county-based partnerships to empower existing local organizations. These sustainable partnerships are fighting childhood hunger in our county.  For the first time we’re working together with the best of the best to end childhood hunger—together.

The three summer food site sponsors are at the table to unite together to promote all summer food sites.  The Klamath Basin Summer Food Program Coalition plans to unite survey strategies, review youth attendance barriers, and create strategies for success for the following summer of 2016.  The Coalition will have the help of an Oregon Institute of Technology extern who will assemble research about Klamath County and its hungry youth.  This data will combine with the site surveys to better help the Coalition to make a stronger impact on next summer’s food programs.

Due to its effectiveness via shared vision, Community Collaboration is the only way we can have an impact to make sure no kids goes hungry, period.

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The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.