September/October 2016 Fresh Focus

Welcome to the September/October edition of Fresh Focus! Chilly fall weather may finally be here, but our summer recap will warm you right up. In this issue, read about the success of our community blitz days, get an in-depth look at a summer meal site, and see VIP visitors in action!

CNOP Launches Blitz Day Initiative to Feed More Children

The Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP) is pleased to report our newest initiative this summer to boost participation for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). This year’s grant from Project Bread focused primarily on marketing and outreach with the main goal of building strong SFSP coalitions in multiple districts throughout Massachusetts. Our strategy was to encourage and support all grant applicants to organize a SFSP blitz event to raise awareness for the program in a grassroots effort. 

For this exciting initiative, sponsors were asked to recruit volunteers from each community and canvass targeted neighborhoods at meal sites where participation was low. More than 60 community organizations stepped up to the challenge and happily embraced the effort. CNOP supported all communities holding a blitz event in their respective districts including Brockton, Chelsea, Hyannis, Milford, New Bedford, Revere, and Salem. 

SFSP sponsors, with help from CNOP, recruited more than 240 volunteers to help spread the word and raise awareness of free meals for kids 18 and under in the summertime. Highlights included organized kick-off events, giveaways and SFSP billboards. Collectively, these groups distributed more than 40,000 flyers. This outreach effort proved to be a HUGE success, reaching many people who learned more about the SFSP and utilize and rely on the program in the summer months.  


Three women hold up flyers promoting the SFSP

Summer Food at Revere Farmer’s Market

In an effort to expand the SFSP program to feed more children in more communities, we are taking a closer look at what we call "non-traditional" sites, with a special focus on farmer’s markets, WIC offices, health centers, and libraries. We are working hard to find best practices to encourage and support new non-traditional sites next summer! If you are interested in adding a non-traditional SFSP site please contact us at

On a summer Friday, school nutrition staff from the Revere Public Schools were busy setting up a tent brightly decorated with red, white, and blue tablecloths and balloons. They proceeded to unpack pizza, sandwiches, apples, carrots, Goldfish crackers, juice, and a cooler full of milk. Farmers and artisan producers were going through similar motions unpacking their kale, blueberries, honey, and scratch baked cookies. The Revere Farmers Market was opening for business -- and along with it, the summer meals site located at the market. Over the course of the next two hours, 100 children received a free meal and were able to eat it in this vibrant park next to City Hall. Meanwhile, family members were able to utilize their SNAP, WIC, or Senior Benefits along with the market’s matching program to buy fresh produce and learn about other SFSP sites operating throughout the week.

In addition to Revere, farmer’s markets had summer meal sites in Boston and Dorchester thanks to the Greater Boston YMCA and in Greenfield thanks to the Greenfield Public Schools. Hopefully next summer even more markets will be SFSP sites!

Two women set up a summer meals site at the farmers market

Did You Download the SummerEats App?

This summer was our first with the SummerEats app. Anyone could use an iPhone or Android phone to find sites, get directions and receive a summer meal at no cost. Did you use the app? What did you think? We would love to get your feedback so we can make it a bigger part of outreach next year. Email us at

A Big Shout Out to VIP Visitors to SFSP Sites This August!

As many sites were closing for the summer, these folks came out to show their support, each of them greeting and interacting with the children. Visits by VIPs helped increase awareness and participation through local media outlets. The children were delighted by the special attention and interaction, with many of these visitors kicking around a soccer ball, twisting about with a hula-hoop, or serving a meal.

These visits included:

Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy of Waltham to Lowell Park in Waltham for lunch. 

Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy of Waltham poses with two children at the SFSP in Lowell park

MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Acting Director for the Office of Food and Nutrition Programs Rob Leshin, and Executive Director of Project Bread Ellen Parker to the Waltham Boys and Girls Club for breakfast. 

MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Commissioner Mitchell Chester plays foosball with a young SFSP participant

Massachusetts State Senator Karen Spilka served meals to children at the MetroWest YMCA in Framingham for lunch. She was joined by Project Bread’s Executive Director, Ellen Parker.

Senator Karen Spilka poses for a photo with staff and children at the MetroWest YMCA