Since 1975, the US Department of Agriculture has sponsored the Summer Food Service Program as a nationwide strategy for providing nutritious meals to children and youth (aged 18 years or younger) in low-income communities during the summer months. Many programs are sponsored by community organizations as well as school districts that may offer the program through the Summer Food Service Program or a seamless waiver, allowing them to extend school meals programs into the summer. These summer nutrition programs are designed to decrease food insecurity and improve health outcomes among at-risk populations. However, the characteristics of these programs, including the types of participants reached, and the programs’ influence on outcomes such as academics, behavior, and physical and mental health, have not been summarized. The aims of this narrative review are to present existing knowledge about the characteristics of summer nutrition programs and their influence on students, to identify knowledge gaps, and to identify future research needs. An extensive search identified eight peer-reviewed articles and 10 reports, briefs, or other documents reporting research on the Summer Food Service Program. A variety of additional literature was reviewed to provide relevant information about summer nutrition programs. The review revealed a dearth of research regarding current Summer Food Service Program implementation. Summer nutrition programs alleviated food insecurity among at-risk populations; however, little research was found about the influence of summer programs on students’ dietary intake or weight outcomes.
The Academic, Behavioral, and Health Influence of Summer Child Nutrition Programs: A Narrative Review and Proposed Research and Policy Agenda
Evaluation of the USDA FINI Program Finds Benefits for Consumers, Farmers and Retailers, and Local Economies
In December 2018, Congress passed a new farm bill which included a reauthorization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program. This brief summarizes the findings of a recent qualitative evaluation of FINI, which concludes that the program has benefits for consumers, farmers and … More
The healthfulness of foods and beverages found in retail food stores differs widely across the United States, both by location of the store as well as by store type. Some communities have limited access to stores that carry healthful staple foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grain-rich foods, and … More
A Qualitative Evaluation of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program
This research describes findings from interviews conducted with grantees of multi-year community-based and large-scale projects funded by the FINI mechanism, as well as with stakeholders who could speak to FINI on a broader level. A total of 22 interviews were conducted with 19 organizations. Key elements addressed in this evaluation … More