Marketing and Promotion
General marketing tips, sample social media, PSAs, etc.

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Marketing and promoting your summer meals program is important for getting the word out about your site and to get kids and teens to keep company. We’ve made it easy for you to choose the right message, the best tool, and customize the message to fit your needs – you’ll find sample text for public service announcements, newsletters, social media, letters to parents, calendar listings, and best practices to go along with them!

General Marketing Tips

General Tips – Develop Your Message

Know your audience: Who are they? Where do they get their information from? What community activities are they already taking part in? Once you know these answers, you can craft the best way to reach them. Reaching parents versus teens might require different tactics.

Craft your message: Using the word ‘free’ doesn’t get everyone’s attention or isn’t enough for them to want to participate. It’s important to make sure people know about the activities you have planned at your summer meals site.

  • See sample flyers, newsletter copy, calendar listings, parent letters and social media posts below, you can use to craft your unique message that fits your audience(s).

Share your message: Keep in mind that people often trust those closest to them. Establish relationships with other community organizations, churches, after-school programs, teachers, and principals. They will often be happy to share news that helps their community.

Work with volunteers and students to distribute flyers to schools, churches, and community organizations to raise awareness about the meals programs in your community.

Location Ideas:

  • Schools
  • Grocery stores
  • Parks and recreation centers
  • Libraries
  • Community health centers
  • Public transportation centers
  • Public housing complexes
  • Places of worship
  • Convenience stores
  • Government services offices (ESL, adult literacy, vocational training, WIC, Medicaid, Social Services)
Types of Outreach

Online Outreach

The use of social networks and putting information on websites are great ways to reach a large audience. According to the Pew Research Center, 74% of adults use social networking with numbers increasing daily.

How you can spread the word online:

  • Create a FAQ section on your website. Make sure there is a presence on the homepage.
  • Post information about summer meals and site visits on social media sites and encourage local leaders and community organizations to share your posts.
  • Use the sample social media posts and images located below. Remember that often sites see their numbers decrease in the middle of the summer. Utilize the activity ideas located in the toolkit to help keep things fresh and fun.
    • QUICK TIP: The use of photos and other graphics will get more attention on social media than just text. You can find images to use in the toolkit as well.
  • Use Facebook ads to spread the word faster and farther, including the website, phone number, texting information and a link to more information.

Community Outreach

Working with local government agencies, elected officials, and community organizations can help you reach more people in your community and spread the word about Summer Meals.

  • Ask elected leaders in your community and state to highlight your program in their constituent outreach tools (social media, newsletters, etc.)
  • Coordinate with other local agencies and organizations interested in the health and safety of low-income children. Creative partnerships can result in new advertising resources and funding sources. For more tips on developing partnerships in your community, see http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Summer/library/Partners.pdf.
  • Explain your program to tenants, security staff, and other clients of the facilities where your summer meals are served.
  • Work with local business or local business associations like the Rotary Club to distribute flyers for posting in business windows.
  • Connect with grocery stores, as well as thrift stores to place postcards on windshields in parking lots or work with your local grocery store to set up an information table at the door to hand out flyers.
  • Partner with local radio and TV stations to visit summer meals sites through the summer to generate excitement for kids to come to sites. Consider having drawings or give-a-ways of donated items include tickets to local events, t-shirts, sunglasses, stickers and other items.
  • Connect with local organizations, newspapers and community newsletters to add summer meals to June, July and August calendar listings. This template calendar listing found in the Sacramento Summer Lunchbox can help you get started.

Schools-Based Outreach

Parents trust schools as an important source of information and count on teachers and educators to provide them with information that will help their kids do better inside and outside school. Many schools have robo call systems to inform parents about closings or schedule changes, or send out newsletters or letters to parents/guardians. Coordinate with schools near your meal sites to have robo calls around summer meals at the end of the year.

Ideas to engage with schools:

  • Coordinate with schools to send a flyer home with students in backpacks. See the below to download a customizable flyer.
  • At the end of the school year, suggest that schools post on their signs a message about summer meals like the following: School’s Out, But Summer Meals Are Served! Text “FOOD” 877-877 or call 211 to find a site near you.
  • Connect with school leaders to see if their school might be willing to serve as a summer meals site.
  • Provide schools and school districts with information about the program in registration packets at the beginning of the year so parents know about the program right when school lets out.
  • Provide schools with a customizable flyer to hang in common areas where both parents and students can see them. See the Sacramento Summer Lunchbox for customizable flyers.
  • Offer materials and information for schools to provide parents during parent-teacher conferences.
  • Work with your local PTA to get out the word to other parents.
  • Provide schools and school districts sample Facebook posts that they can post to Facebook pages.

Social Media Sample Posts

Download all social media images and graphics to complement your social media posts here.

Audience Twitter Facebook
Parents This summer, lunch is on US! (USDA that is) Find free summer lunch sites near you by texting FOOD to 877-877! NorCal moms, need a lunch break this summer? Check out FREE activities + lunches for kids 18 and under near you. Text FOOD to 877-877 or visit bit.ly/findsummermeals
Parents Got kids? Feed ‘em free! Summer meal programs open to all kids 18 and under. Text FOOD to 877-877 for locations! Moms, save $300 FAST! Check out free summer meal sites near you. Open to ALL kids 18 and under, all summer long. NO PAPERWORK REQUIRED!
Text FOOD to 877-877 or visit bit.ly/findsummermeals
Parents Free lunch for all kids 18 and younger- no paperwork required! Visit bit.ly/findsummermeals MOMS, save $300 a month this summer! Check out free summer meal sites in your neighborhood. Open to ALL kids 18 and under, all summer long. NO PAPERWORK REQUIRED. bit.ly/findsummermeals
Parents Free lunch for all kids 18 and younger- no paperwork required! Visit bit.ly/findsummermeals Summer’s in full swing. If feeding kids while they’re out of school is stressing your food budget, check out the free summer meals program for all kids 18 and under. To find a location near you, text FOOD to 877-877 or visit bit.ly/findsummermeals
Parents Moms, don’t forget! Free summer meals are still available for all kids 18 and under! Text FOOD to 877-877 or visit bit.ly/findsummermeals Kids 18 & under eat free. No adults necessary! Visit bit.ly/findsummermeals or text FOOD to 877-877 for meal location near you. No paperwork required!
Parents Kids 18 & under eat free. Summer meals available nearby. Visit bit.ly/findsummermeals or text FOOD to 877-877 for a lunch spot near you. Is your child receiving free or reduced-price lunches at school? Worried about how you will feed them this summer? FREE summer meals help! No forms, no lines and best of all, no cost! Visit
bit.ly/findsummermeals or text FOOD to 877-877 for a location near you.
Mid-Summer More Locations Added! For free meals for kids 18 and under, find a free summer meals site near you. Text FOOD to 877-877 or visit bit.ly/findsummermeals Moms need a summer break too! Take a lunch break and treat your kids to a Free Summer Meal! Sites are available near you. Just text Text FOOD to 877-877 or visit bit.ly/findsummermeals
Mid-Summer Free lunch? It’s not just a midsummer night’s dream. Text FOOD to 877-877 or visit bit.ly/findsummermeals for locations  
Mid-Summer Healthy eating shouldn’t stop just because school’s out! Free lunch for kids all summer long. Healthy Eating Made Easier This Summer! Free lunches available for all kids 18 and under, no paperwork, no restrictions! Text FOOD to 877-877 or visit bit.ly/findsummermeals
Mid-Summer Almuerzo gratis para niños este verano. No papeles necesarios. Llame 1-877-8-HAMBRE  
Kids This summer, lunch is on US! (USDA that is) Find free summer meal sites near you by texting FOOD to 877-877! Don’t let lunch take a summer vacation! Meet up with friends for free meals + fun in your neighborhood. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a lunch spot near you.
Kids JUST FOR KIDS! Meet for lunch with your friends. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a site near you! FOOD, FRIENDS + FUN! Meet me at (location) for a free lunch + activity.

Find the more useful sample social media posts at link below.

Sample Newsletter, PSA, Parent Letter and Calendar Listing

Sample Public Service Announcements

General PSA’s:

  • PSA 1: Are you worried about how you are going to feed your kids this summer when school is out? Text FOOD to 877-877 or visit bit.ly/findsummermeals to find a location near you, where your kids can eat for free.
  • PSA 2: Do your children receive free or reduced price lunch and breakfast at school? And maybe you’re not sure how you are going to feed them during the summer? Text FOOD to 877-877 or bit.ly/findsummermeals to find a location near you, where your kids can eat for free.
  • PSA 3: Don’t let healthy eating go on vacation this summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you. Open to all kids 18 and under- no paperwork required. Again, text FOOD to 877-877 for a location near you or call 2-1-1.
  • PSA 4: For kids and teens this summer, there IS such a thing as a free lunch. No paperwork or documentation required. Find a free summer meal program near you by texting the word FOOD to 877-877. Don’t let healthy eating go on vacation. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a location near you.
  • PSA 5: Kids and teens can have lunch on US this summer- USDA that is. Free summer meal programs are open to everyone 18 and under, regardless of income. There’s no paperwork required. Just text FOOD to 877-877 for a location nearest you. Again, text FOOD to 877-877 for a location near you.

Sacramento County Focused PSAs (81% missing out):

  • PSA 1: Healthy eating shouldn’t stop when school is out. Four out of five Sacramento kids and teens who rely on school lunches are missing out over the summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you. Again, text FOOD to 877-877 for a location near you.
  • PSA 2: In Sacramento County, four out of five hungry kids are missing out on free meals this summer. But all kids 18 and under can eat free thanks to USDA’s Summer Meals Program. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a location nearest you.
  • PSA 3: More than 74,000 kids in Sacramento County who rely on school lunches are missing out on free meals. Don’t let healthy eating go on vacation this summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you.

Amador County Focused PSA’s (100% missing out):

  • PSA 1: Healthy eating shouldn’t stop when school is out. Kids and teens across Amador County who rely on school lunches are missing out over the summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you. Again, text FOOD to 877-877 for a location near you.
  • PSA 2: In Amador County, more than twelve hundred kids and teens who rely on school lunches are missing out on free meals this summer. But all kids 18 and under can eat free thanks to USDA’s Summer Meals Program. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a location nearest you.
  • PSA 3: Nearly all Amador county kids who get free or reduced lunch during school year are missing out on summer meals. Don’t let healthy eating go on vacation this summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you.

El Dorado County Focused PSA’s (97% missing out):

  • PSA 1: Healthy eating shouldn’t stop when school is out. More than Nine out of 10 kids and teens in El Dorado County who rely on school lunches are missing out over the summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you. Again, text FOOD to 877-877 for a location near you.
  • PSA 2: In El Dorado County, over nine out of 10 hungry kids are missing out on free meals this summer. But all kids 18 and under can eat free thanks to USDA’s Summer Meals Program. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a location nearest you.
  • PSA 3: 97% of El Dorado county kids who get free or reduced lunch during school year are missing out over the summer. Don’t let healthy eating go on vacation this summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you.

Placer County Focused PSA’s (91% missing out):

  • PSA 1: Healthy eating shouldn’t stop when school is out. Nine out of 10 Placer county kids and teens who rely on school lunches are missing out over the summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you. Again, text FOOD to 877-877 for a location near you.
  • PSA 2: In Placer County, nine out of 10 hungry kids are missing out on free meals this summer. But all kids 18 and under can eat free thanks to USDA’s Summer Meals Program. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a location nearest you.
  • PSA 3: In Placer County, more than 11,000 kids and teens who rely on free or reduced lunch during school year are missing out over the summer. Don’t let healthy eating go on vacation this summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you.

Yolo County Focused PSA’s (83% missing out):

  • PSA 1: Healthy eating shouldn’t stop when school is out. More than four out of five Yolo County kids and teens who rely on school lunches are missing out over the summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you. Again, text FOOD to 877-877 for a location near you.
  • PSA 2: In Yolo County, four out of five hungry kids are missing out on free meals this summer. But all kids 18 and under can eat free thanks to USDA’s Summer Meals Program. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a location nearest you.
  • PSA 3: 83% of Yolo county kids who get free or reduced lunch during school year are NOT served during summer. Don’t let healthy eating go on vacation this summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you.

Fresno County Focused PSA’s (82% missing out):

  • PSA 1: Healthy eating shouldn’t stop when school is out. Four out of five Fresno kids and teens who rely on school lunches are missing out over the summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you. Again, text FOOD to 877-877 for a location near you.
  • PSA 2: In Fresno County, 85,000 kids are missing out on free meals this summer. But all kids 18 and under can eat free thanks to USDA’s Summer Meals Program. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a location nearest you.
  • PSA 3: 82% Fresno county kids who get free or reduced lunch during school year are NOT served during summer. Don’t let healthy eating go on vacation this summer. Text FOOD to 877-877 for a free summer meals program near you.
Sample Newsletter Text

FREE FOOD, FRIENDS AND FUN SERVED UP ALL SUMMER LONG!

Free summer meals are available to kids and teens across [CITY/STATE] who come to a summer meals site in the community. During these tough economic times, free summer meals can help you save money and stretch their already tight summer food budgets. Many summer meals sites offer fun learning and recreational activities so your kids and teens can eat a healthy meal while staying active and being with friends.

  • Meals are FREE to children and teens ages 18 and younger
  • Food served at summer meal sites follows USDA nutrition guidelines and are paid for by the USDA
  • Summer meals sites are at fun, safe places for kids to go such as schools, churches and community centers
  • Many sites offer learning and recreational activities for kids of all ages so they can eat, hang out with friends and take part in activities offered
  • Parents don’t need to apply to the program or show proof of income to get a free summer meal for their kids. They can simply bring their child to a summer meals site in their community.

Summer should be a stress-free time, full of food, friends and fun. Free summer meals can help. Help us spread the word. If you or someone you know is interested, go to bit.ly/findsummermeals or call 211 to find a site and learn more or text ‘FOOD’ to 877-877 to find a site near you.

Sample Letter to Parents

[DATE]

Dear Parents or Guardians,

For many kids, summertime means food, friends and fun. Stretch your food budget this summer and get FREE summer meals, funded by the USDA. These meals are available to kids and teens ages 18 and younger at sites across [CITY/STATE]. Many summer meals sites offer fun learning and recreational activities so your kids and teens can eat a healthy meal while staying active and being with friends.

Free Summer Meal Program Details:

  • Meals are FREE to children and teens ages 18 and younger who come to a summer meals site
  • Free summer meals will help you save money and stretch your food budgets
  • Food served is healthy and follows USDA nutrition guidelines
  • Summer meals sites are at fun, safe places for your kids and teens to be active and visit with friends
  • No application or proof of income needed. You can just bring your child to a summer meals site in your community

If you or someone you know is interested, go to bit.ly/findsummermeals or call 2-1-1 to find a site and learn more or text ‘FOOD’ to 877-877 to find a site near you.

Sincerely,

[NAME]

Sample Calendar Listing

This calendar listing can be customized to announce the start of the summer meals program. Reach out to local papers, community and church newsletters, and more.

FREE SUMMER MEALS – FOOD, FRIENDS AND FUN!
Starting [START DATE] through [END DATE], kids and teens can visit to one of dozens of summer meals sites across the [AREA/CITY/STATE] and get a FREE, healthy meal. Many summer meals sites, which are registered with the USDA, offer fun learning and recreational activities so kids and teens can eat a healthy meal while staying active and hanging out with friends. Go to bit.ly/findsummermeals, call 211 or Text ‘FOOD’ to 877-877 to find a site near you

Social Media Best Practices and Organizations to Follow

Social media can be an important tool to help promote your summer meal program. Not only can it help your site raise awareness around the Summer Food Service Program, it can also help participants find information on how and where they can access meals, which can ultimately, increase participation in the program. Use this guide for helpful tips and general best practices for popular social media platforms that can help your site utilize social media this summer for maximum benefit.

  • Utilize the Sacramento Summer Lunchbox sample social media posts and images
  • Utilize images and video – especially on Facebook. Videos and images garner more attention than those without
  • Follow other organizations so you can share their content via Facebook or retweeting on Twitter
  • Engage the public using questions
  • Post meal and activity schedules so people have something to look forward to
  • Content sources can include:
    • Recommended organizations/websites below
    • News articles specific to healthy meals and nutrition
    • National holidays/special days (first day of Summer, etc.)
    • Events
    • Quotes
  • Use scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to help manage your social media platforms
  • Consider designating one or two key staff or volunteers to manage your agency’s social media pages

Facebook:

  • Use the rule of thirds when posting on Facebook – self promotion, promote industry (general nutrition and meal program info.), and fun posts
  • You can pin posts to the top of your page that are extra important
  • Like other sites and consider cross promotion
  • Be sure to post no more than 3 times per day
  • Download the Facebook pages app to your mobile phone to help facilitate instant posting and remedy any confusion between posting to a personal page versus business page
  • Consider a small budget for boosted posts – you can target specific demographics and increase the reach of your posts

Twitter:

  • Consider the time it takes to manage Twitter. Because tweets can get lost in the newsfeed quickly, it takes constant management to get the most from this social media tool.
  • Posts should be no more than 120 characters to allow for retweets
  • Reserve some content that is only for your Twitter audience
  • Ask questions to showcase an interest in the community
  • Thank new followers for following, especially if they have a large or relevant following of their own

Instagram

  • Post photos that are relevant to your site
  • Engage with the Instagram community by liking and commenting on other users’ photos
  • Generate a flexible posting plan by posting 1 or 2 photos every few days
  • Balance filtered photos with non-filtered photos
  • Make sure photos are bright and colorful
Social Media Profiles to Follow

California Department of Education
Twitter: @cadepted @CDENutrition
Facebook: CAEducation

Cooperative Extension FNEP
Twitter: @CaliforniaEFNEP
Facebook: ucanrEFNEP

Dairy Council of California
Twitter: @HealthyEating
Facebook: DairyCouncilofCa
Pinterest: dairycouncilca/

Elk Grove School District
Twitter: @elkgroveunified
Facebook: ElkGroveUnified

No Kid Hungry
Twitter: @NoKidHungry
Facebook: NoKidHungry
Pinterest: Nokidhungry/

Sacramento City Unified School District
Twitter: @officialSCUSD
Facebook: scusd

San Juan Unified School District
Twitter: @sanjuanunified
Facebook: SanJuanUnified

Twin Rivers School District
Twitter: @Trusdschools
Facebook: twinriversusd

United Way California Capital Region
Twitter: @unitedwayccr
Facebook: UWCCR
Pinterest: united_w/
Instagram: unitedwayccr

USDA Summer Food Service
Twitter: @USDANutrition
Facebook: USDA
Flickr: usdagov

Flyers, Social Media Images & Graphics and Web Banners

Download the full suite of social media images, flyers, etc. HERE