Out of School and Summer Feeding Program Evaluation


The United States Department of Agriculture administered several entitlement programs that are targeted toward serving meals to children of low-income families. Although participation in the National School Lunch Program is widespread, participation in out-of-school and summer feeding programs remains stubbornly low. In 2012, the Walmart Foundation began a partnership with targeted grantees (Texas Hunger Initiative, National League of Cities, and YMCA of the USA) to address this issue and to increase participation in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). This study sought to address the impact of operating programs year round, as well as to examine additional factors that might contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of program delivery.

Researchers used a mixed-methods approach to further understand the practices of grantees, sponsors, and sites and their relations to program efficiency and participation. Using a multi-pronged approach, researchers solicited survey responses, analyze administrative data, and interview grantee and sponsor staff. The project collaborates with funders, grantees, sponsors, and sites to determine the most efficient strategies to best serve low-income families. Through comparisons of various programs, the goal of the project was to educate after-school and summer feeding programs of the most dynamic practices in order to ensure that children are provided with nutritious meals year-round.

Downloadable Overview

Out of School and Summer Feeding Overview PDF

Research Team

  • Barbara Fiese, PhD, Principal Investigator, Family Resiliency Center Director, Human Development and Family Studies
  • Craig Gundersen, PhD, Professor, Agriculture and Consumer Economics
  • Brenda Koester, MS, Assistant Director, Family Resiliency Center, Human Development and Family Studies
  • Hannah Habeeb, Project Coordinator, Human Development and Family Studies


The Walmart Foundation generously supported this project.


Brenda Koester
Assistant Director, Family Resiliency Center
Phone: 217-244-6486
Email: bkoester@illinois.edu