Program Evaluation; Public Health Practice; Child Nutrition Services; Mixed Methods Analysis; Summer Food Service Program; United States Department of Agriculture


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Policy | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion | Public Policy


The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was established to ensure children eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) continue to receive meals outside of the school year. However, participation in SFSP is relatively low (2.8 million annually) when compared with NSLP participation (30.4 million annually), suggesting that challenges exist in reaching children. Using a mixed methods approach, this study explored factors associated with SFSP participation. A secondary data analysis of the Oregon SFSP identified factors associated with SFSP participation at the Oregon SFSP-, sponsor-, and site-levels. Semi-structured interviews with SFSP sponsors explored barriers and facilitators to SFSP participation. Results showed increases in the total number of meals served as well as number of sponsors and sites for the Oregon SFSP over the study period. Sponsor average daily participation (ADP) demonstrated a significant decrease over the study period. Sponsors that offered more meal types, greater number of activities, and were school districts had a higher ADP. Results from interviews showed themes of organizational characteristics, site environment, and meal logistics. Findings suggest that strengthening existing sites and tailoring the current SFSP model to allow successful expansion of the program to new sites may have the greatest impact on increasing average daily participation and improve the operational sustainability of the SFSP.

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Cover Letter