As summer approaches, many children eagerly anticipate a break from school, looking forward to sunny days filled with play and adventure. However, for millions of children, summer also means losing access to regular, nutritious meals provided by school programs. This seasonal gap exacerbates the issue of food insecurity, and addressing it is crucial to ensure every child can enjoy a healthy, happy summer.

Food insecurity is the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. It affects millions of children in the United States alone. During the school year, programs like the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program help mitigate this issue. When schools close for summer, these safety nets disappear, and many families are left struggling to provide sufficient nutrition for everyone in the household.

Here in metro Detroit, Forgotten Harvest is serving an average of 157,426 food-insecure tri-county residents per month, and over 34,800 of them are children.

The Impact on Children

The consequences of food insecurity extend far beyond hunger. Because proper nutrition is critical for physical health, cognitive development, and overall well-being, children who experience food insecurity are more likely to face developmental issues, academic challenges, and long-term health problems.

Ensuring children have regular access to nutritious meals during the summer is essential for their growth and success. We believe every child should be able to enjoy their summer activities with the positive energy that comes from full bellies.

Summer Feeding Programs at Forgotten Harvest

To bridge the summer feeding gap, Forgotten Harvest operates several summertime initiatives that nourish metro Detroit’s children:

  • FH Children’s Summer Lunch Program: Funded by community donors, grants, and sponsorships, Forgotten Harvest’s Children’s Summer Lunch Program provides approximately 100,000 lunches to children for the summer, distributing five days a week for about 10 weeks, free of charge to partner agencies in metro Detroit. Volunteers help pack healthy lunches for metro Detroit children who need emergency food during the summer when they lose access to school-subsidized meal programs. We pick up fresh meat, fruit, vegetables, dairy, and juice from our donors, and ensure healthy “kid-friendly” items to balance out the nutritional mix. Distribution is targeted to our community partners that serve at-risk and underserved children during the summer months at pantry distributions, community centers, or summer camps.
  • Summer Food Service Program (SFSP): Managed by the USDA, SFSP provides free meals to children in low-income areas during the summer months. This summer, Forgotten Harvest is participating in an SFSP breakfast and lunch distribution initiative. Forgotten Harvest serves as a sponsoring organization that works with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to contract with a meal provider vendor who will make the breakfasts and lunches. Forgotten Harvest hopes to distribute over 12,000 breakfasts and 27,000 lunches through the SFSP program. Community sites such as schools, parks, and libraries serve as distribution points, ensuring children receive the nutrition they need.

How You Can Help

Community involvement is vital in combating food insecurity year-round, but especially during the summer when metro Detroit’s children need it most. Here are a few ways you can make a difference in the fight against food insecurity:

Volunteer: Offer your time at local meal distribution sites, food banks, or summer feeding programs. Your help can ensure smooth operations and provide much-needed support. Help Forgotten Harvest to make lunches for deserving children! Monday-Saturday, To get involved in metro Detroit, please visit

Donate: Contribute to Forgotten Harvest, your local emergency food pantries or food banks, community kitchens, or other nonprofit organizations dedicated to fighting hunger. Monetary donations often go further, allowing organizations to purchase fresh produce and other nutritious foods in bulk. Every $1 donated to Forgotten Harvest provides food for up to 4 meals. To donate to Forgotten Harvest, please visit

Sponsor: If you’re a business owner or part of a local organization, consider sponsoring a meal site or event. Your sponsorship can provide essential resources and increase the reach of feeding programs. To sponsor our Forgotten Harvest Summer Feeding Program, please contact Maureen Smith at

Advocate: Share with your friends, family, and colleagues about the importance of children receiving proper nutrition. Raise awareness about food insecurity and the importance of summer feeding programs in your own circles. Encourage local businesses, schools, and community leaders to support these initiatives. Let your local government officials know that feeding children is important every day and should be supported as much as possible.

Addressing summer food insecurity requires a collective effort. Nonprofits, governments, businesses, foundations, and individuals all play crucial roles. By working together, we can ensure that every child has access to the nutritious meals they need to thrive, regardless of the season. This summer, let’s commit to nourishing young minds and bodies so no child goes hungry. Every action counts, and together, we can make a lasting impact on the health and happiness of our future generations.