Cultural summer meals tour earns national recognition for school

School-provided summer meal programs are crucial in delivering continuous nourishment to students, but simply offering meals doesn’t guarantee participation. Effective marketing is key to making students and their families aware of these programs – sparking interest and encouraging involvement. Dairy West’s summer cultural meals tour takes school meals to the next level and has proven to increase engagement.

Student Lunch Outside

Enthusiasm is key for child participation, especially when it comes to food. By making meals exciting, children have greater interest and participation.

West Ada School District recognized the need to attract more children to their summer food programs and turned to Dairy West for support. The Cultural Summer Meals Tour grant and marketing package helped West Ada’s meal participation grow, and students were eager to return to summer meal sites regularly.

The cultural summer meals program includes a variety of materials, including passports, posters, signage and more. The adventure-related messaging opens students up to the possibility of trying new foods while tying in elements of summer fun.

These resources from Dairy West, coupled with high-quality meal options, earned the Idaho school the ‘Turnip the Beet’ Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The award recognizes outstanding summer meal programs nationwide who work hard to offer appetizing and nutritious meals to children.

Deena Benson, Dairy West’s School Nutrition Specialist, said, “The purpose of our culture summer meals tour is to add interest and to give participants a reason to return to summer meals.”

The resources made the level of participation in summer meal programs more consistent. Benson, a said, “Our resources help school districts have the marketing pieces to give students the extra motivation to come back.”

West Ada School District was one of six school districts to participate in the cultural school meals tour pilot program in 2023. All participating schools experienced similar results and saw a higher number of meals served.

“We are so grateful for our partnership with Dairy West and all of the resources that they offer.” said Kristen Homer, the assistant supervisor of school nutrition at West Ada. “The cultural summer meals gave us greater interest and reach in our summer foods program.”


Are you interested in securing the cultural summer meal tour materials for your summer sites? Applications are open until April 19. Apply here.



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