Providence Summer Meals

Summary 

The City of Providence, Rhode Island has experienced many successes while expanding participation in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) while also increasing engagement of elected officials around the issue of child nutrition over the past several years. Despite the high need of children in the city – almost 90 percent of Providence’s public school children are eligible to receive free and reduced-priced meals– it’s estimated that only 12 percent of the city’s youth participated in the SFSP in 2013.

 

By developing strong relationships with stakeholders from a variety of disciplines, including public health providers, city agencies, schools, child-care providers, and local non-profits, the city created a collective message and vision that was spread throughout the community by utilizing a comprehensive marketing campaign. This marketing campaign was so successful that it is now being used across the State of Rhode Island.

 

The Strategy

City Role

The City of Providence, Rhode Island has experienced many successes while expanding participation in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) while also increasing engagement of elected officials around the issue of child nutrition over the past several years. Despite the high need of children in the city – almost 90 percent of Providence’s public school children are eligible to receive free and reduced-priced meals– it’s estimated that only 12 percent of the city’s youth participated in the SFSP in 2013.

 

By developing strong relationships with stakeholders from a variety of disciplines, including public health providers, city agencies, schools, child-care providers, and local non-profits, the city created a collective message and vision that was spread throughout the community by utilizing a comprehensive marketing campaign. This marketing campaign was so successful that it is now being used across the State of Rhode Island. 

Funding

The Healthy Communities Office has received funding from the National League of Cities, National Recreation and Parks Association and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank to support expansion of SFSP.

Partners

The Healthy Communities Office is partnering with the Providence Parks and Recreation Department, USDA, Rhode Island Department of Education, Rhode Island Department of Human Services, Rhode Island Department of Health, Governor's Office, United Way of Rhode Island, New England Dairy and Food Council, University of Rhode Island SNAPED,  Providence Public School District, , Partnership for Providence Parks, Providence PlayCorps, YMCA of Greater Providence, Rhode Island Food Bank, Rhode Island Kids Count, Sodexo, and many local media partners.

Outcomes

Utilizing their pass-through grant funds, the team developed a multi-faceted marketing campaign, in both English and Spanish, designed to spread the word about the availability of free summer meals for kids and teens 18 and under. The messages appear around the city on printed banners, posters, police cars, city street lights, and door hangers, and appear on flags outside of the summer meal sites. In addition to printed materials, the city is making use of local English and Spanish radio stations and TV commercials to deliver the message to parents about where their kids can access free meals this summer. 

Providence has addressed issues of meal quality, staff training, customer service, site visibility, and dramatically increased overall program awareness over the past three years and as a result has increased participation by the following:

  • 103 SFSP sites, increased from 98 in 2013
  • 5,071 kids served on average per day, increased by 135% from 2013
  • 172,000 meals served, increased by 36% from 2013

Contact Information 

Institute for Youth, Education, and Families
nash@nlc.org

Azade Perin

Program Manager

Healthy Communities Office

25 Dorrance Street
Providence RI 02903

401.421.7740 

Aperin@providenceri.com

Related Topics