Children who rely on school meals struggle to access healthy food during summer break. The Cities of Service Community Tables Blueprint helps these children access healthy meals over summer.
For kids, summer should be a season of fun with friends and family. But for families who rely on school meals, the summer break presents uncertainty about where and when children can have consistent, healthy meals. Programs exist to alleviate this need, like the Summer Food Service Program (“SFSP”); however, for a variety of reasons – lack of awareness about the program, inability to get children to meal sites during the times they are open, embarrassment, or other reservations about accepting free meals – only a fraction of those who are eligible for summer meals receive them.
The city chief executive's office identifies a full-time Community Tables coordinator and convenes and engages key stakeholders. The city chief executive uses his or her position of authority to raise awareness of child hunger and promote Community Tables. Volunteers support Community Tables by raising awareness and providing outreach, while the mayor's office tracks and reports on required program metrics.
Executing the Plan
The mayor's office strategizes appropriate outreach while developing low-cost, volunteer-based enrichment activities at meal sites and incorporating Community Tables into existing summer youth programs where possible. Volunteers can canvass, provide site support, and help collect data and site metrics.
Measures of success for Community Tables may include an increase in the number of beneficiaries, meals, and sites served. Program partners are key to metrics collection, and taking the time to collect and compile data at the site level supports overall implementation and reporting.