Have you reached out to your local 211 provider?
When it comes to summer meals, 211 can be an invaluable partner. 211 is a free telephone and Web referral service–available in as many as 150 languages–that links families to local resources. According to 211 California, in 2009, more that 1.6 million Californians used 211 to local services including rent and mortgage assistance, food and shelter, healthcare, job training, transportation, childcare, and senior care. The San Diego County Summer Lunch Task Force has collaborated with 211 San Diego to expand its referral options by helping families also find summer meal sites.
To this end, 211 San Diego created a unique web page, available in English and Spanish, dedicated to summer meals. The easy-to-use interface allows families to search by zip code to find sites located closest to them. The search function also includes meals served, hour of operation, and any activities offered. This web page is the first comprehensive and interactive list of all San Diego County summer meals sites. 211 San Diego will also continue to enhance the site by adding regional maps. Families can also call 211 and speak to one of 211 San Diego’s highly trained specialists who can direct them to summer meal sites and other community services.
211 San Diego’s Community Development Officer, Gabriel Kendall, finds that sometimes the family is dealing with other issues (e.g., ran out of SNAP benefits, electricity turned off) that may have led to needing food assistance. The partnership between 211 San Diego and the Summer Lunch Task Force demonstrate how community partners can effectively collaborate–and capitalize on the assets of each–to create a summer safety net for families in need. Find out if 211 is in your county here.
1. USDA’s 2013 Summer Food Service Program Webinar Series
This year’s series focuses on a range of topics including engaging elected officials, addressing the transportation challenge and more.
2. Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) Summer Meals Matter Conference Call Series
FRAC’s monthly calls share summer meal program best practices from around the country.
3. Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon Site Sustainability Matrix
This guide helps sponsors assess potential summer meal sites or re-evaluate sites from last year to gauge success potential.
4. National Summer Learning Association – Healthy Summers: Turning Risk into Opportunity report
This report connects the research related to summer and its impact on food insecurity, childhood obesity, and the academic achievement gap. A must-read for school district and community leaders.
5. Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry – Fighting Hunger Through health Care Brief
This report provides a look at the health care community and can spark ideas about how to engage health care providers serving low-income families as key partners.
Now is the time for community and school district leaders to start the conversation about how they will come together to ensure that California’s low-income students do not fall through the proverbial cracks when school lets out for summer break.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is urging leaders within the community and school districts to support summer meal programs in their communities. In a letter sent earlier this month, Torlakson called upon community leaders to ensure that children in need have access to free, healthy lunches when school is out via USDA summer nutrition programs. Superintendent Torlakson emphasized the importance of proper nutrition, physical activity, and opportunities for learning during summer to prevent California’s low income students from falling behind academically — and to preserve their health. Superintendent Torlakson also called upon school district superintendents to be proactive in making sure that their students have access to summer meals during this crucial time.
With no one agency holding sole responsibility for the well-being of California’s kids when school is out, the responsibility falls to all of us to work together to create a summer safety net. This is truly an “all hands on deck” effort and an opportunity to strengthen our communities and help kids thrive. An effort well worth it.
You may have noticed that the California Summer Meal Coalition’s website got a makeover. We like spiffy, but our ultimate goal is to be useful too. After the Coalition hosted its annual retreat in November in Sacramento, a common theme emerged: There needs to be a venue for summer meal providers to communicate ideas, questions, challenges, and innovative practices.
So with that in mind, we’ve added a “Community” section to the website that will provide an opportunity for us to open the door for new ideas, areas needing more support, and sharing the great work that you are doing in the community. Check out the community here. We are also growing our library of resources, tools, and webinars, so have a look around…and be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date by clicking here.