Share Our Strength holds National Summer Meals Summit
December 17, 2014
Jillien Meier, Senior Manager, No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices
On December 15th-16th, Share Our Strength hosted the second annual National Summer Meals Summit. With more than 265 people in the room over the span of two days, they convened more than 48 states, 42 state agencies, and over 60 national and state non-profit partners, including USDA Administer Audrey Rowe and Under Secretary Kevin Concannon.
The National Summer Meals Summit covered a range of issues important for state agencies, sponsors and advocates working to expand access to summer meal programs, including:
- Expanding the use of technology
- Building a sustainable mobile meals program
- Child Nutrition Reauthorization
- Investing in sponsor retention
- Engaging schools
- Effective marketing practices
- Year round meal programs
While each summer meal program stakeholder experiences unique challenges and opportunities with summer feeding, the summit revealed not only an eagerness to collaborate and share best practices on ending childhood hunger, but also a view into some of the common challenges and opportunities states share. Attendees learned about new partnership opportunities to serve isolated communities; state agencies discussed the difficulties associated with maintaining program integrity during program expansion; and attendees shared new technologies that are making it easier for sites and sponsors to track meal counts and reduce food waste.
The National Summer Meals Summit is leading to change in the field- 100 percent of survey respondents said they would take action when they went home as a result of the summit. They committed to such activities as engaging in collaborative planning, investing in social media marketing campaigns, developing a sponsor retention program, engaging elected officials, and implementing an advocacy agenda. For more information, please visit the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices.