Students “Snap for Snap Peas!” at summer meal sites

June 21, 2019

by Chelsea Krist, program coordinator

Students with bowls of snacks.

Oh, snap! School’s out for the summer. But the Iowa Department of Education’s Summer Food Service Program is all in, supporting food access across the state in June and July.

The summer program provides nutritious meals and snacks to youth in low-income areas. Sponsors at libraries, summer school programs, parks, community centers and other sites work hard to coordinate and share tasty, free meals with community youth.

This year, 30 summer meal sites also chose to support local farmers and local food education. They opted to participate in the 2019 Iowa Farm to Summer Campaign, “Snap for Snap Peas!”

Iowa Farm to Summer poster.

Sweetest veggie

This year’s campaign highlights sugar snap peas as the sweetest veggie of the summer. Participating sites incorporate local food education and youth leadership opportunities into their meal programs. Activities include gardening, on-site cooking demos, local food taste tests and farmer visits.

Participating sites on map.
These communities are participating in the 2019 Iowa Farm to Summer campaign.

The biggest barrier to children participating in the Summer Food Service Program is awareness that meals sites exist. So the “Snap for Snap Peas!” campaign utilizes signage and posters to promote sites in new ways. Campaign participants also receive a $150 stipend to purchase the tools and local food that bring their education plans to life.

“Snap for Snap Peas!” is the second Iowa Farm to Summer Campaign. Participant numbers doubled since the launch of the 2018 “Root for Radishes!” campaign. 2018 participants told us the campaign helped them increase participation numbers and retention of youth at their meal sites. With engaging activities and fun new foods to try, youth and families are more likely to show up and return to their local summer meal program.

Students hold up radish seed packets.
Students in Brooklyn, Iowa, “Root for Radishes!” in June 2018.

Creative partnerships

Summer meal sponsors are creative and resourceful in their approach to bringing food, fun and learning to students over the summer months. 2019 participants are partnering with

  • farmers
  • food educators
  • city departments
  • food hubs
  • farmers markets
  • community organizations and
  • local nonprofits, and others.

How can you “Snap for Snap Peas!” and support the Summer Food Service Program? Locate and learn more about Summer Meal Sites in your community, attend a meal with the youth in your life, or volunteer to lead activities.

Snap for snap peas poster.

You can also call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE, or visit to find and share locations of the free, nutritious summer meal sites near you. New this year, folks can also get info by texting Food or Comida to 877-877.

The Iowa Farm to Summer Campaign is a collaborative project supported by the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, FoodCorps Iowa, the Farm, Food, and Enterprise Development of ISU Extension and Outreach, and AgMRC. Look for more pictures, information and updates about the campaign throughout the summer as organizers visit participating communities!

Contact me for more information.