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elementary school children enjoying a free summer lunch program

Families who rely on free or reduced school lunch programs during the year often worry about what’s going to happen during the summer when school is out. Fortunately, there are several ways kids under 18 can enjoy free summer lunch programs, provided you know where to look. Let’s review the details.

What are these programs called?

Depending on where you live and which organization is providing the meals, look for: Summer Meal Programs, Summer Lunch Programs or Summer Food Service Programs. Some programs only provide lunch, while others offer breakfast and lunch. Some places may also offer additional learning and activity programs.

Who offers free summer lunch programs?

You’ll generally find these programs at schools, community centers, libraries or churches. They will always be in safe, supervised environments. Some areas are continuing to offer curbside pick-up of grab-n-go meals or delivery to central locations depending on pandemic protocols.

Who qualifies to receive meals?

Children and teens up to age 18 may receive these meals. There is no paperwork, registration or proof of income required.

How do I find these summer food programs?

These programs aren’t always easy to locate. To find the location nearest you offering free summer meal programs text FOOD to 877-877 or call the USDA hotline at 1-866-348-6479.

You can also visit No Kid Hungry or Feeding America and use their search tools.

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