Beyond the Sun: Summer Resources for Food & Fun

Did you know that when kids no longer receive breakfast and lunch at school in the summertime, parents must provide roughly 10 extra meals per week per child?

This can make summer a financially challenging time for families and is also the time of year when children are most likely to experience food insecurity. Additionally, working parents often need help finding affordable daytime supervision for their children, but they frequently encounter waitlists for traditional childcare.

Whether you’re a working parent balancing work and family, an older adult needing support, or an agency partner guiding clients to the right services, 211info is your first stop to identify, navigate, and connect to local resources. Let’s explore programs and resources that can help make summer a little easier.

Additional Food Access

Summer Meals Program
One of the standout programs available during the summer is the Summer Meals Program. The initiative offers free meals and snacks to all children aged 1-18 across hundreds of communities. There’s no need to sign up — kids can drop in. Beyond providing essential nutrition, many Summer Meals sites also host activities such as arts and crafts, sports, and games, creating a lively and supportive environment for children to connect and play. This program not only helps bridge the food gap when school is out, but also fosters a sense of community among families. Summer Meals are open to all families, with no income verification needed, and regardless of immigration status. Call 211 to find locations, or visit Summer Food Oregon. If you’re in Southwest Washington, check out Hunger Free Washington or ESD 112 for more info.

Summer EBT
Families can benefit from Summer EBT (called Sun Bucks in Washington), a new grocery benefits program that offers $120 per eligible child to help buy food during the summer months. If a household participates in SNAP, TANF, Basic Food (WA), or OHP, the benefits automatically add to existing EBT cards. For those not currently enrolled in these programs, a simple application process is available to receive a new EBT card loaded with the extra summer benefits.

At 211info, we have a dedicated SNAP Coordinator who can help people overcome barriers to accessing SNAP, explain the application process and needed documentation, and help people understand qualifications. “You can think of us like the front desk for SNAP, the place where you get started, and we can direct you on next steps and what to expect,” said Gabby Valdes, 211info’s SNAP Coordinator. Have questions about accessing SNAP? Call 211 or email [email protected]. If you’re in SW Washington, call 211 and ask about Basic Food.

Making the Most of Farmers Markets

SNAP Match (Double Up Food Bucks)
When using your SNAP and Basic Food benefits at participating markets, you can make your dollars go further by taking advantage of SNAP Match (Double Up Food Bucks). You’ll receive matching funds to purchase more fresh, locally-grown produce. For example, spending $20 of SNAP benefits earns an additional $20 to buy fruits and vegetables.

Farm Direct Nutrition Programs
These programs seek to get more fresh produce into the hands of families and seniors, while also supporting local farmers markets, farm stands, and community-supported agriculture. Eligible participants receive vouchers toward produce, and Oregon and Washington have their own programs.

Are you an Oregon senior and have questions about the Senior Farm Direct Nutrition Program (SFDNP)? Contact 211 to reach our dedicated SFDNP helpline and program specialists who can answer all questions about SFDNP, including eligibility, how to access benefits, how to use farmers’ market checks, and more. For additional information visit the Farm Direct Nutrition Program directory.

School’s Out: Supporting Child Care and Youth Enrichment

Looking for ways to keep kids entertained and learning this summer? Many nonprofits and publicly funded programs offer free or low-cost childcare alternatives during the summer to help keep kids busy and interacting with their peers. There are also additional ways to connect, including parenting classes, playgroups, local sports leagues, and more. Plus, now is also the time to plan for preschool enrollment.

Did you know 211info has a dedicated Child Care team? They provide information and referrals for child care, summer camps, and various other children’s resources. “Our goal is to connect families with programs that provide not only supervision, but also enrichment and development opportunities for children of all ages,” said 211info Child Care Director, Kerry Wels.

Contact our Child Care team today by calling 211, texting the keyword “children” or “niños” to 898211, or emailing [email protected].

Why Contacting 211info Makes a Difference

We’re not Google, and we’re proud of that. Our staff is specially trained and goes beyond offering a simple list. They listen to each caller’s unique situation and needs and ask the right questions to uncover customized help for each caller.

We call this asking the ‘second question.’ By digging deeper and truly assessing someone’s current situation, we can provide comprehensive support that addresses multiple aspects of someone’s life, help uncover additional options not previously considered, and tailor solutions to specific needs.

Ready to explore summer resources in your area? Call 211, text your zip code to 898211, or email us at [email protected]. Summer may bring unique challenges, but 211info is here 24/7 to help.