for Kids

Summer meals and school meals help to give kids the nutrition they need to stay healthy so that they can learn and grow. Each program helps to fight hunger and obesity by reimbursing groups like schools, child care centers, and after-school programs for serving healthy meals to children.

Did you know?

  • All kids & teens attending public school in the School District of Philadelphia (or charter schools operated by the District) can now receive free breakfast and lunch without parents having to fill out additional paperwork.
  • In the summer, there are over 1,000 sites in Philadelphia that serve free breakfast, lunch, and snacks to kids and teens ages 18 & under. No income, ID, or registration is required.

Summer Meals

What are summer meals?

There are over 1,000 places in Philadelphia that serve free breakfast, lunch, and snacks to kids and teens ages 18 and under, as well as disabled persons over 18 who participate in school programs for people who are mentally or physically disabled. No income, ID, or registration is required.

Sites include recreation centers, churches, schools, public housing complexes, community organizations, and even private homes participating in the Department of Parks & Recreation’s “Playstreets” program.

Why are summer meals important?

During the school year, thousands of low-income students eat free or reduced-price meals at schools. But when school is out and kids aren’t getting those meals, they face higher risk for hunger and malnutrition. Summer meals help to fill that gap and give kids and teens the nutritious food they need to stay healthy all summer.


How do I find my nearest summer meals site?

To find your nearest Free Summer Meals site:

  • Call the toll-free Philly Summer Meals Hotline: 1-855-252-MEAL (6325)
  • Text “MealPA” to 877877
  • Like the map on this website? Visit www.phillysummermeals.org for a similar map (available June - August)

Can I start a summer meals site in my community?

If you plan to work with children age 18 and under this summer, you may qualify to serve them free meals. These two sponsors can work with you to set up a Summer Meals site in Philadelphia:

Philadelphia Parks and Recreation: 215-685-2725

Runs the Playstreets program (city blocks closed to traffic to provide meals & activities).

Nutritional Development Services (NDS), Archdiocese of Philadelphia: 215-895-3470, option 1

Works with a wide variety of summer programs & outdoor neighborhood meal sites.

What are the responsibilities of a summer meals site?

  • Attend a program training by a sponsor
  • Decide how many weeks to provide meals
  • Promote summer meals in your community
  • Follow USDA guidelines to hand out meals
  • Supervise meal service and site activities


If you host a summer meals site, the program is flexible! You decide:

  • The length of time to provide meals each day
  • How many days a week you will offer meals
  • How many weeks during the summer you will operate
  • What, if any, other activities you can offer at the site

Still have questions?

Call the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger’s Summer Meals Hotline: 1-855-252-MEAL

Summer meals are made available by the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option. Philadelphia sponsors include the Department of Parks & Recreation; Nutritional Development Services, Archdiocese of Philadelphia; C.B.S. Kosher Food Program, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and others.

School Breakfast

The National School Breakfast Program (SBP) provides K-12 students with nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. All School District of Philadelphia schools now offer FREE breakfast to ALL students, as well as many parochial and charter schools.

Why is School Breakfast important?

Children do better in class when they start their day with breakfast. However, far too many students in Pennsylvania still aren’t getting the nutrition they need at school, which can negatively affect their health as well as their ability to learn and succeed academically. More than half of Pennsylvania’s low-income students who eat lunch at school do not receive school breakfast.

The School Breakfast Program is proven to decrease discipline and behavioral problems, visits to the school nurse, and tardiness in schools, while increasing student attentiveness and attendance. Studies also find that students who eat school breakfast show improved reading and math skills, as well as higher scores on standardized tests. By ensuring more students have access to school breakfast, we can help to improve health and learning outcomes for all children in Pennsylvania.

How is Philadelphia working to increase School Breakfast participation?

In Philadelphia, thanks to the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which qualifies each student for free school breakfast, 60% of low-income children in the city who eat lunch, also participate in school breakfast. This ranks the city 44th among large school districts nationally.

To help highlight the importance of school breakfast, and incentivize schools that make meaningful changes to increase student access to breakfast, Councilwoman Helen Gym has teamed up with partners throughout the city to hold the Philadelphia School Breakfast Challenge!

How can my school join the next PA School Breakfast Challenge?

To learn more about the School Breakfast Challenge, outreach activities, and how to implement an alternative breakfast service model at your school, visit: www.hungercoalition.org/phillyschoolbreakfast

School Lunch

What is the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)?

The National School Lunch Program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. As a result of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), more students now have access to school lunch through a new “Community Eligibility Provision” (CEP) that went into effect nationwide during 2014.

What is “Community Eligibility Provision” (CEP)?

CEP makes it easier for high need schools to serve free meals to all their students without the added work of processing paper applications. Instead, schools use data on the proportion of students receiving SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), MA (Medical Assistance), and a few other programs, to estimate need and receive reimbursement for meals served.

How can my child receive free school lunch?

Thanks to CEP, starting with the 2014-2015 school year, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) public schools (and charters served by SDP) now offer FREE breakfast and lunch to ALL students, with no paperwork required from families. 60 Archdiocesan schools in the region are now also able to offer free meals to all students thanks to this policy change.

The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946. Find out more at http://www.fns.usda.gov/nslp/national-school-lunch-program-nslp.