Gaining coverage in local media outlets is another effective strategy to spread the word about summer meals. Here are some tips.
- Invite media to kick-off events by issuing an advisory prior to the event.
- Enlist the mayor or another local elected leader to issue a proclamation declaring the summer “Hunger Free.”
- Submit a letter to the editor. This can come from a summer meals sponsor, a local official, faith-based organization or other community organization.
- Issue a news release a week before the start of the program with site information. Include pictures from last year, if possible.
News releases and letters to the editor should also be copied into an e-mail – not sent as an attachment.
Following are samples of a letter to the editor, news release and PSA that you can use or customize.
Letter to the Editor
For many kids, summertime means food, friends and fun. For families who count on school breakfast and lunch, however, the summer months can be the hungriest time of the year. That’s because about a half million New Jersey children rely on school meals for nutrition during the academic year.
Without those meals in the summer, many kids go hungry.
The good news is that starting [DATE], kids and teens can visit one of the [# OF SUMMER MEALS SITES] in [TOWN NAME] and get a free, healthy meal that follows federal nutrition guidelines. Many summer meals sites offer fun learning and recreational activities so kids and teens can eat a healthy meal, while staying active and spending time with friends.
Summer meals programs help families stretch tight budgets, while ensuring children receive the nutrition they need to be healthy and grow. At most open meal sites, families do not have to fill out an application or show proof of income to get free meals for their kids and teens.
Summertime should be a stress-free time full of food, friends and fun. Free summer meals can help. Help spread the word. For information about meal sites in (Community Name), visit (website) or contact (Sponsor Name/phone/email)
(BE SURE TO INCLUDE WRITER’S CONTACT INFORMATION AS DETAILED BELOW!)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Community Name) serving free summer meals for kids
For many children, summer is the hungriest time of the year, as they lack access to school meals and family budgets are stretched tight to meeting other summertime expenses, such as extended child care and summer camps.
To combat this summertime hunger, (Sponsor Name) is offering free meals to children throughout (Community Name).
Healthy, federally-funded summer meals will be available at XX sites throughout the (Community Name), in places where children congregate during the summer, including parks, schools, pools, recreation programs and other community sites.
“We know that many (Community Name), children rely on school meals during the academic year,” said (quote mayor, superintendent or summer meal sponsor). “In the summer, family budgets are stretched tight. These meals help fill that nutritional gap so kids return to school healthy and ready to learn in the fall.”
The meals are available to all (Community Name) children 18 years of age and under. Parents are not required to complete an application, nor provide identification for their children to receive meals, according to federal rules. The meals must meet USDA nutrition standards, which call for protein, fruits and vegetables, juice or milk and low-fat, low-sugar options.
In addition to providing free, healthy meals, these programs also offer an opportunity for children 18 years and younger to play together, engage in enrichment activities, hone their academic skills and be better prepared when they return to school in September.
For some children, school meals are the only meals they receive each day. For these children, summertime means hunger.
In July 2016, New Jersey’s summer meals programs reached just 21 percent of children who received free- or low-cost school lunch during the 2015-16 school year, according to a recent report by Advocates for Children of New Jersey.
National standards recommend at least 40 percent of these low-income children receive summer meals. If New Jersey expanded summer meals to reach that goal, communities and school districts could collect an estimated $5.5 million more federal dollars each year to fight childhood hunger, according to the ACNJ Summer Meals Update report.
For more information and to find site locations, contact (sponsor contact information) or visit (website with site locations/hours).
Radio PSA Script — 30-Seconds
Summer should be a stress-free time full of food, friends and fun. Free summer meals can help! Any child or teen age 18 and under can get free healthy meals at safe locations across the area. Many meals sites also offer learning and recreational activities so your kids can stay active and spend time with friends. Free summer meals can help families stretch tight summer food budgets. Contact (sponsor name/email/phone or provide web url with site) A message from [sponsors].
Radio PSA Script — 60-Seconds
Summer should be a stress-free time full of food, friends and fun. But when school’s out, families can’t count on their kids eating meals at school. That stretches already tight family food budgets even more. Free summer meals can help! With free summer meals, any child or teen 18 and under can get healthy meals at safe locations just like during the school year. There is no application needed. Just go to (Website) or call 1-XXX-XXX-XXX to learn more and find a site near you. The free summer meals programs helps families provide their children with healthy meals in a safe, supervised place. They are also a great opportunity for kids to spend time with friends. Contact (sponsor name/email/phone or provide website with meals site locations) A message from [sponsors].