Young girl psoing for a Summer Meals article

Connecting Kids to Meals this Summer

This year marks Operation Food Search’s eleventh year as a sponsor of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Funded by the USDA, SFSP ensures that children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Kids are more at risk for hunger when school is out, and this program provides a crucial link to nutrition normally obtained within schools.

Serving children is at the heart of what we do at Operation Food Search. As an SFSP sponsor, OFS will connect thousands of children 18 and under with meals across the metro region. An SFSP sponsorship means we use our knowledge of food distribution to allow our partners to do what they do best — serve the children in their own community. OFS maintains a contract with the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services to facilitate this program, which allows us to purchase and deliver meals to organizations that serve the public directly. This consistent and sustainable program allows us to put significant food resources into the community.


Meal Distribution Format

Our Summer Meals program operates from Monday, June 3, through Friday, Aug. 16. As a federally-funded program, OFS’s Summer Meals follows regulations designed by the USDA. During the pandemic, waivers enabled us to change the format to provide drive-through meals. Now, the program has returned to an in-person model. In addition, we’ve added new locations geared toward increasing access. OFS has expanded partnerships within the city of St. Louis to fill service gaps, adding three new program sites at St. Louis Public Library (SLPL) branches and bringing the total number of participating SLPLs to five. A new partnership with Affinia Healthcare at Biddle will bring the program to kids living in the Carr Square neighborhood.

In order to serve children where they live and play, OFS relies on strong partnerships with community organizations across the region. Operation Food Search provides ready-to-eat meals to our partner organizations, and return, partners host daily meal service for the kids in their neighborhood. Successful partnerships include public libraries, summer day camps, and recreation centers. Meal sites must be located in low-income areas that qualify based on federal guidelines.

Key Facts

One in 12 eligible Missouri children receives summer meals. OFS is working to increase this participation rate through improved access.
OFS provided nearly 54,000 summer meals in 20 locations in 2023.
OFS operates the Summer Meal program throughout the St. Louis County Library system and at select locations in the St. Louis City Library and St. Charles Library systems.
Recognizing the number of people who struggle with hunger in rural counties, OFS expanded to Jefferson County and Warren County in a pilot project to provide summer meals.

How Summer Meals Impact Children

Support healthy growth and development

Help students hit their “summer stride,” retaining academic skills and knowledge

Provide safe, active spaces for children

Find Free Meals in Your Area

Text FOOD to 304-304

and receive a text with the address and program information for sites closest to you, or check out our location map.


Interested in serving as a Summer Meals host site?

Please fill out the application.

This program or parts of this program may be funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food & Nutrition Service as part of the USDA Summer Food Service Program, in accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Office of Adjudication & Compliance, 1400 Independence Ave, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410  or call (202) 260-1026, (866) 632-9992 (toll free), or (202) 401-0216.