NYC Food by the Numbers: Summer Meals

by nycadmin
Free Summer Meals for Everyone

Summer meals are available to all children ages 18 and under, free of charge, at many locations across the city including schools, community pools, NYCHA complexes, libraries, community centers and day camps when school is not in session. Although universal free school meals is not yet a reality for most school children, the Summer Food Service Program is intended to feed hungry children who rely on NYC school food for two meals each school day throughout the school year. Many of these children come from food insecure homes and 75% qualify for free or reduced price lunch. Despite these alarming numbers, the summer meals program is underutilized: only 15% of the estimated eligible children participate. With the 2015 season now in full swing, we provide here an overview of summer meals statistics and trends. We thank Community Food Advocates, Share our Strength and NYC Coalition Against Hunger for their efforts in compiling and sharing this data.


This year, from June 27 through September 4th there are 442 open sites across the five boroughs: 149 in Brooklyn, 79 in Queens, 89 in Manhattan, 100 in the Bronx, and 25 in Staten Island.

These sites accept walk-ins; anyone 18 and under is eligible to receive a meal. In July 2014, there were 377 open sites citywide, up from 370 in 2013 and 344 in 2012. Examples of open sites include schools, some libraries, pools, parks and soup kitchens.

In addition to open sites, many community recreational programs, special education programs, parochial schools, day camps, and other non-public sites operate citywide. There were 1185 lunch sites in 2014, up from 1147 in 2013.


In July 2014, average daily participation (ADP) for lunch citywide was 162,088 compared to 153,605 the year before. ADP for the whole summer (July and August) is usually lower as participation typically falls in August- in 2014, ADP was approximately 141,000 compared to 140,000 in 2013 and 211,000 in 2001, the highest ever.

Participation is on an upswing since 2010, but on average approximately 70,000 less children each day were served in 2014 compared to 2001. Community Food Advocates has proposed that higher rates of participation would follow if breakfast and lunch was served in the classroom and if the threshold of daily participation imposed by DOE was lowered to include schools in low-income under-served neighborhoods.

Four Schoolfood trucks are stationed in places frequented by children during the summer: Orchard Beach (Monday to Friday) & Roberto Clemente Park (Saturday & Sunday) in the Bronx, Sara D. Roosevelt Park (Rivington Park) in Manhattan, Flushing Meadow-Corona Park Zoo parking lot at 111th street, and Corona Plaza at Roosevelt Avenue & 103rd street) in Queens. [12]

In 2014 the number of meals (breakfast and lunch) served from these four Schoolfood trucks was 446,260, up from 320,596 in 2013, a 39% increase. Public schools serve between 70% and 80% of total summer lunches.


From 2013 to 2014 total meals (breakfast and lunch) served across the full 10-week season increased by 6.8%: 7,632,845 in 2013 to 8,152,202 in 2014. We hope that this upward trend continues so that more children are served in 2015.

Find a summer meals site near you (or register to become one)

[1] Free-standing middle schools enjoy universal free school lunch, and universal free breakfast has been implemented since 2003. Breakfast after the bell will be piloted in the 2015-2016 school year


NYC Alliance for Child Nutrition Reauthorization 

Community Food Advocates. Summer Meals 2011: Low Participation (again) in NYC. February 2012.

New York City Schoolfood- Summer Meals Site Locator

Additional data provided by Community Food Advocates, Share our Strength and New York City Coalition Against Hunger

Back to NYC Food by the Numbers main page>>


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