Venture Philanthropy / Catalytic Giving

New York City Summer Meals Program

The New York City Department of Education’s Office of SchoolFood, which provides free breakfast and lunch to qualified public school students year-round, historically served hundreds of thousands fewer children over the summer than during the regular school year, despite high need.

To increase awareness of and participation in the essential Summer Meals Program, the foundation initiated and then supported a program that conducted outreach and distributed refrigeration units, flyers, and posters. This effort produced a 31% increase in program participation in the first year and continued significant increases in the second and third years of funding, resulting in hundreds of thousands of additional healthy meals reaching children each summer.

This catalytic program has led to key partnerships with the New York City Housing Authority, the Parks Department, and both soup kitchens and public libraries in Brooklyn and Queens.

The program later added a mobile app, called SchoolFood Feed Your Mind, that allows users to view daily menus and find the nearest Summer Meals sites.

Summer Meals are served at over 1,100 locations including parks, schools, libraries, and food trucks.