Summer Food Service Program helps kids return to school healthy and ready to learn

During the school year, many families rely on Free and Reduced-Price Schools Meals to help feed their children nutritious food and stretch their food budgets. For example, if a child eats breakfast and lunch every day at school that’s ten meals a week, per child, that parents don’t have to worry about providing. However, school is only in session nine months out of the year and many families find it difficult to pay for the additional meal costs when school is out. As a result, summer can mean hungry bellies and malnutrition for many kids across Montana. Kids that do not receive adequate nutrition over the summer months are at a disadvantage when school starts again in the fall.

In Montana

  • In summer 2018, approximately 13,450 kids ate summer meals per day, totaling over 700,000 meals served – an increase from summer 2017, when just 11,770 kids ate meals per day, totaling nearly 633,000 meals served.
  • In school year 2017-18, an average of 45,700 low-income children received free and reduced-priced (FRP) lunch each day. So, at most, only 29% of FRP kids received meals in summer 2018. Yet, the participation rate of FRP children is likely lower, since all kids can eat free at summer meal sites, regardless of FRP status.
  • Across Montana, 71% of counties had at least one SFSP site, totaling 89 sponsors and 249 sites located at schools, parks, public pools, libraries, housing complexes, and community centers.

MFBN works to increase the number of Summer Food sites across the state, as well as increase participation at current sites. We bring together stakeholders (schools, non-profits, churches, etc.) in underserved communities to help recruit sponsors and develop new sites. We also provide outreach materials to all of our partner agencies and many other service providers throughout Montana to ensure that families know how to find feeding site. Through Child Nutrition Reauthorization and other legislative opportunities, we advocate for policies that protect this important program and help it work better in our state.


To find a site near you, text SUMMER MEALS to 97779 or visit


Please join us in reaching more families by posting or handing out flyers with information on how to find summer meal sites. Download our flyer here.


Does your community have a Summer  Food site? Could it use one? We can help determine if your community is eligible for Summer Food and bring together potential key partners. Find more information about SFSP and starting a food site in your area.

For more information about Summer Food in Montana contact Seanna Pieper-Jordan, Public Policy Coordinator

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