Are you trying to increase meal access in your community? With COVID and financial strains, implementing a new program is difficult and scary. The Food Service Department at School Town of Highland is the inspiration many community programs need these days. Lisa Hayes, Director of Food Service, and the team tackled the issue of feeding their students during this summer.  

Because the School Town of Highland didn’t have previous data on how popular the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) would work for their community, a parent survey was disseminated prior to the school year 2020-2021 ending. The survey identified households would love to have access to free summer meals and activities. Parents with students in elementary schools identified that 90% were interested in an SFSP option.  

Lisa connected with local community partners to increase the excitement for their first SFSP. In total, 8 community partners provided weekly “Fun Day” opportunities for households to receive handouts, water bottles, recipes, goodies, flowers, and so much more! Zandtras Nursery, Highland Parks and Recreation, Tri Kappa, NWI Food Bank, Indiana Dairy Association, Girls on the Run, Purdue Extension, Superhero Training & Supply, Franciscan Health, and No Kid Hungry Indiana. What a line-up! 

The meal sites, times, and locations were advertised through social media, school websites, and Trojan Today Newsletter. Additionally, color fliers were designed and distributed at the downtown Highland business. (Great idea 💡 – The Trojan Today Newsletter is distributed in the town’s water bill statements!) 

With 4 meal sites, the School Town of Highland Food Service Department served 14,533 meals in June and 16,788 meals in July. The meal sites offered students breakfast (13,963 breakfasts served) and lunch (17,358 lunches served). To offer daily hot lunches and sides proved to be a good decision as this was a benefit-add to the program.  

Next year they plan to branch out to parks and community centers. There’s no stopping the School Town of Highland! 

To implement an SFSP of your own, follow Lisa’s example: 

  1. Survey the Community 
  2. Reach out to Community Stakeholders  
  3. Evaluate the need and staff/resources  
  4. Are grants needed? 
  5. Plan the meal sites, menus, and fun days 
  6. Advertise! 
  7. Post and tell your story