Hosting a Summer Kick Off event


A summer kick-off event is a prefect opportunity to engage the community and promote your summer meal site while having a fun, family friendly event. The scale of your summer kick-off event will vary depending on your organization’s capacity and resources available.

Kick-off events help to introduce summer meals to your community. The goal of the event is to get parents, children and the community excited about your summer meal program.

The Sacramento Summer Meals Collaborative wants to promote all summer kick-off events throughout the region. Use this guide to help you decide if hosting a summer kick-off event is the right fit for your program.

When should a kick-off event happen?

  • The best time to host a kick-off event is at the beginning of the summer after the school year is completed. It can be the week before your summer meal program begins or it can even be the first day of your summer meal program.
  • Promotion of your summer kick-off event should happen well before the school year ends.

Where should a kick-off event take place?

Your location will depend on the number of people you expect to attend, funds available and your organization’s capacity. Kick-off events can take place at:

  • A meal service site
  • Community centers
  • Public libraries
  • Parks
  • Other large community gathering spaces

Who should be involved in the kick-off event?

Partner engagement is key to a successful kick-off event! Ideas for partnership include:

  • Local food banks
  • WIC clinics
  • Schools
  • Libraries
  • Community health centers
  • Boys & Girls Clubs
  • YMCAs
  • Girl Scouts
  • Fire and police departments
  • Local radio stations
  • Local TV stations
  • Youth service organizations
  • Local bands or musicians
  • Local artists
  • American Red Cross
  • Local theatre companies
  • Museums
  • 211
  • Local sports teams

In addition to the partnership ideas above, reach out to your local elected officials to not only attend the event but also to help promote the event. Local leaders can play a critical role in helping to raise awareness of summer food service program sites and engaging them with your summer kick-off event can help encourage more participation.

Consider recruiting volunteers to help host fun activities for parents and families. Refer to the Summer Activities Kit for fun ideas of games and activities you can offer at your summer kick-off event.

How to promote your summer kick-off event

Begin spreading word about your summer kick-off event before the school year ends so families know when and where the event is taking place.

  • Post flyers in the neighborhood surrounding your event site
  • Utilize social media to invite community members
  • Notify local media
  • Invite local elected officials and ask for their office to promote the summer kick-off event to their constituents
  • Encourage event partners to promote the event through their website and social media
  • Display yard signs outside of your kick-off event space and in the surrounding community. Yard signs are an affordable way to promote your event.
  • Partner with your local school
    • Send a flyer home to parents
    • Write an article for the schools newsletter:

Don’t let healthy eating stop just because school is out! Did you know that having kids at home over summer vacation can add up to $300 to your monthly food bill? Save time and money by taking advantage of free summer meal programs right here in our community. Text FOOD to 877-877 or visit to find a location near you, where your kids can eat for free all summer long. USDA’s free Summer meals programs are open to all kids 18 and under, no paperwork or proof of income required!
Use one of the images available through the Sacramento Summer Lunchbox to include in the newsletter.

  • Ask the principal to send a robo call home to parents
    • Good morning/afternoon/evening {school name} parents. This is Principal {Name}. It’s been a pleasure watching your children learn and grow this school year. Don’t let their progress stop just because school is out. Free summer meals are available to all children 18 and under right here in {community name}. To find the location nearest you, text FOOD to 877-877 or (if in Sacramento) dial 211. Don’t let healthy eating take a summer vacation. See you next year.”
    • Good morning/afternoon/evening {school name} parents. This is Principal {Name}. Are you worried about how you’re going to feed your kids this summer when school is out? Text the word FOOD to 877-877 to see if there’s a USDA summer meals program near you where your kids can eat for free. Health eating shouldn’t stop when school is out. Just text FOOD to 877-877 or dial 211 in Sacramento. See you next year.

Find additional ways to engage the community all summer long.

Traditionally, participation in the summer food service program declines after the July 4th holiday. Keeps the momentum going during the entire summer by hosting additional events throughout the summer to keep the community excited and engaged. These events can be simple but will help to remind families and the community about the importance and availability of summer meals.

Simple event ideas include:

  • Invite the police department to come to a meal site to do child fingerprinting or have lunch with a police officer.
  • Partner with your local public health department to distribute information and health screenings.
  • Invite the local library branch to visit your summer meal site to sign kids up for summer reading programs or enroll in a library card.
  • Partner with local businesses by hosting employees to volunteer at your meal site and lead activities with kids. Or ask local businesses for material or monetary donations to support an arts and crafts day or to sponsor a bounce house for the day.
  • Work with your local food bank to do a mobile food distribution at your summer meal site. This is an opportunity to connect with families and provide valuable nutrition beyond your summer food program for the entire family.
  • Get creative! Let us know of other fun event ideas you plan to do this summer. Email your ideas to

Are you ready to host a summer kick-off event?

That’s great! Register your summer kick-off event with the Sacramento Summer Meals Collaborative. Email to let us know about the details of your summer kick-off event.