The Summer Scoop

NDE's Summer Food Service Program Newsletter

Striving to Serve More: The Summer Sunshine Award

NDE wants to recognize SFSP Sponsors who successfully expand the number of meals they provide to Nebraska's children. SFSP Sponsor who increase meal participation by 10% or more from the previous year will be recognized with the NDE Summer Sunshine Award.

What: an annual award given to Sponsors with a 10% or more increase in meals served from the previous year.

Why: to think outside the box as we create new ways to reach more children who would benefit from summer meals; we will share Sponsor strategies for feeding more children in their communities.

When: Awards will be announced in the Summer Scoop newsletter in September.

Building Community: Falls City Area Ministerial Association

The Falls City Area Ministerial Association began serving meals with the SFSP in 2012. With an enthusiastic summer feeding team, they've grown from 1,092 meals their first summer to 1,293 in 2015, including a 44% increase in July meals served when many Sponsors see participation decline.

They have used a variety of fun ideas to keep participants engaged throughout the summer. For one week in 2015, their summer food team member and food service supervisor, Kathy, featured a new country each day. She planned menus to feature special dishes for each country. The youngest participants even colored pictures of animals common in the featured countries.

Falls City's SFSP also featured a summer-long checkers tournament. Participants arrived early each day excited to play a game or two before mealtime, always asking if the checkers would be set up to play the next day.

Creativity and fun help keep children engaged in summer feeding. After all, it's more than meals, it's a sense of community that really keeps them coming back for more. To learn more about what other SFSP Sponsors are doing, visit the USDA's Best Practices page.

Serving Up Ideas to Serve More Meals

NDE is challenging all open sites to serve 100 more meals to children in June 2016 than they did in June 2015 - that's less than five more meals each serving day in June. In order to make this lofty goal a reality, some "outside the box" thinking is necessary.

- Do a "Feed 500 Day" by promoting your feeding site in as many ways and through as many participants, community leaders and media outlets as possible. Challenge every participant to bring a friend, encourage teachers to bring their children, tell vacation Bible schools, summer camps and neighborhood day cares to visit the site for a meal on the challenge day. Name it whatever you want to and promote however you can. It could be a fun challenge to see how promoting a single event can lead to making a stronger community.

- Offer "Fun Fridays" by lining up special Friday activities or events like visits from the local fire department, police department or UNL Extension. Many sites see summer meals participation slump on Fridays; planning and promoting special events or site visitors has been effective for many Sponsors to keep participants engaged.

- Channel your inner Willie Wonka and offer a week of "Golden Ticket" giveaways. Although SFSP reimbursement cannot be used to purchase giveaway items, community businesses may be willing to help. Ask the local bowling alley, swimming pool, grocery store or ice cream shop to donate gift cards. Local community groups may have grant opportunities you can use to purchase "Golden Ticket" prizes. Tape the tickets with prizes written on them to the bottom of select trays or inside sack lunches.

Share your feeding success stories with NDE. We would love to share your summer feeding expansion ideas with other Sponsors as we build our community of resources and knowledge to feed more of Nebraska's children. Email me at with subject "Feeding More".

First Week Site Visit Waiver

In an effort to reduce paperwork for SFSP Sponsors, First Week Site visits may be waived. SFSP memo 12-2011 Waiver of Site Monitoring Requirements in the Summer Food Service Program allows all existing SFSP sites in good standing and without significant site staff turnover to NOT complete the SFSP First Week site visit. This flexibility is also extended to existing USDA Child Nutrition Programs sites (i.e. NSLP and CACFP) that are new to SFSP and have not experienced significant staff turnover. Written waiver requests are not required.

High Quality Meals in SFSP

For some children, the SFSP meal may be the only meal a child receives for the day. These SFSP meals may contain the only nutritious foods the children receive all summer long.

As we strive to do more and do better for the children in our communities, we know it's not just about providing something to eat, it's about providing foods that nourish growing bodies and minds. For example, we encourage all Sponsors to limit or totally eliminate fruit juice. Sugary beverages, including fruit juices, often provide little more than calories and some vitamin C; we know whole fruits are much more nutritious and summer meals may be the only time children are exposed to such high-quality nutrition.

The USDA has a variety of resources to help Sponsors develop more nutritious menus including the Offering Healthy Summer Meals Kids Enjoy four-page handout. The handout offers practical ideas for getting staff and volunteer support for making small changes that improve meal quality in ways that appeal to children and teens.

Team Nutrition has a library of summer feeding resources including family activity guides, posters, flyers and recipes, all in English and Spanish. You can access them and place orders for your own copies here.

Millard Public Schools to Host Kick-Off June 1

Millard Public Schools is getting summer feeding off to an exciting start with a kick-off event, Rolling Through Summer. The event will feature Nowear BMX performing a bicycle exhibition and tricks, Millard Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Jim Sutfin, USDA Mountain Plains Regional Office Administrator, Darlene Barnes, Share Our Strength and Hunger Free Heartland.

Connect With Us!

Get information, access resources and promote summer feeding through the NDE Nutrition Services' Facebook and Twitter. See the Facebook and Twitter links below and join the conversation with #NESummerMeals.