Finding free meals for children during the summer is as easy as dialing 211.
Press “4” for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and then enter your ZIP code for dates, meal times and what meals are served at the locations nearest you.
You also can visit the Hunger Task Force website or look for the bright green signs that say free summer meals.
Free summer meals for those under 18 are offered at 138 locations in the city of Milwaukee.
Not all meal sites have the same meal schedule. While some locations might serve breakfast and lunch, others serve lunch and dinner. Fifty of the locations serve all three meals. For a complete list of locations, meal times and what meals are served at individual locations click here. For an interactive map of the locations click here.
For more than 12 years the Hunger Task Force has partnered with Milwaukee Public Schools, West Milwaukee Public Schools, the Social Development Commission, Milwaukee Center for Independence (MCFI), the Salvation Army, the YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs of America to help feed kids through the summer.
“A lot of cities don’t collaborate, and that is the key to making sure every kid is well fed,” said Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force.
“During the school year, we can offer a free breakfast, lunch and dinner program to every student enrolled in MPS. In the summer, without school, many kids don’t get three healthy meals,” said MPS nutrition dietician Christina Austin.
For breakfast, an eight-ounce carton of milk, a fruit or vegetable and a whole grain option such as cereal or breakfast crackers are available. Meat or meat substitutes are added at lunch and dinner.
Approximately 25 percent of children in Milwaukee live in poverty, which means they don’t have adequate access to meals, said Tussler.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, during the school year, more than 21 million children rely on free and reduced-price meals provided by the National School Lunch Program but only about 3.8 million participate in the USDA’s summer meal programs.
“With MPS providing the meals, the kids are in a safe place where they can go and have programming or enrichment activities as well as get a meal,” said Austin.
Any child who is hungry can get a meal, added Tussler. “Let’s say a kid is staying with their grandma for the summer and across the street is a summer school program. Even if the child isn’t in the program, he can still go there to get a meal.
“If a kid is in care somewhere, whether it’s summer school or a recreation program or literally out playing in a park, they should have access to summer meals,” she said.