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
The USDA Online Purchasing Pilot, which allows SNAP participants to shop and pay for groceries online, rapidly expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 2020 to March 2021, the number of participating states increased from 5 to 47. This brief assesses whether the Pilot promotes healthy food access (using the … More
The Impact of Increasing SNAP Benefits on Stabilizing the Economy, Reducing Poverty and Food Insecurity amid COVID-19 Pandemic
With unemployment currently at a record high as a result of COVID-19, participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is expected to increase significantly. Congress has already passed three COVID-19 aid bills, which include SNAP provisions such as funding for emergency benefits for SNAP households and program administrative flexibilities. … More
Federal food programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are the first line of defense against food insecurity in the United States. However, these benefits are often not sufficient to meet all of the food needs of … More