A Growing Summer-Meal Network for Growing Kids

In 2017, the Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama embarked on a multi-year effort to decrease summer hunger and expand access to healthy summer meals for children. Led by the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, and in coordination with the Jefferson and Walker County Health Action Partnerships, an expansive summer-meal network was created to meet this vital need.

With support from United Way of Central Alabama, Feeding America and the Conagra Brands Foundation Hunger-Free Summer Program, the summer meal network served 59,721 healthy lunches and snacks free of charge to an average of 705 children a day throughout June and July of 2017. The Community Food Bank collaborated with the YMCA of Greater Birmingham, A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club, Walker County Community Action, Calvary Resurrection and others to offer these free, wholesome meals five days a week at various locations.

Now in our second year, we are pleased to report that the program for Summer 2018 is making great progress.

  • Summer meal sites have doubled, with 14 sites now serving Central Alabama.
  • ALL meals exceed Federal nutrition guidelines and provide children an even wider variety of fresh, healthy foods.
  • Participating partner agencies collaboratively designed the summer meal menus, and fresh salads are included each week as an entrée.
  • As an added benefit, the menu also includes ingredients from local family farmers! Thanks to a partnership with the Farm Food Collaborative, the variety of locally grown snacks has expanded to include watermelon, blackberries, blueberries, tomatoes and cucumbers. Locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables are packaged by Valley Foods and distributed directly to the sites serving meals.

By summer’s end, the Community Food Bank estimates that the summer meal network will serve approximately 70,000 meals to an estimated 1,100 unduplicated children. Thanks to this program, participating children now have year-round access to the nutritious foods they need to grow strong bodies and curious minds. Together, these agencies are working to end summer hunger – and making sure kids can focus on just being kids!

Interested to learn more about summer meals or find a location serving near you? Please visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks