National Landscape: Summer Meals

Summer can be the hungriest time of year for many kids from low-income families. The Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option are federal programs intended to help the millions of children who qualify for school meals, but only reach a small portion of children.

The summer meal programs only reach a small portion of children that participate in school meal programs. Transportation, safety concerns and extreme weather conditions are common barriers to children being unable to travel to and safely stay at a summer meal site. Another barrier to reaching children during the summer is the requirement that children consume the meals at the meal site.


Despite concerted efforts of the public and private sectors, most states across the country struggle to reach children through summer meals because of the structural barriers to these programs. Until Congress changes the requirements to allow states greater flexibility to reach children in need during the summer, there will be a large gap in the ability of summer meal programs to meet the need.


Meal rate is measured by the percent of summer meals or snacks as a ratio of free and reduced-price meal eligibility. The rate reflects the number of summer meals or snacks served compared with the number of meals served if every free and reduced-price eligible student received two meals during the summer.

Scroll to see full table

Close the Childhood Hunger Gap

Visit the Center for Best Practices to access our library of tools that can help you feed more kids.

Learn More

View State Data


We'd Love to hear From You

Center for Best Practice

1030 15th Street, NW Suite 1100 W

Washington DC 20005

(800) 969-4767

Send us a message