Healthy Meals Program


Healthy Meals Program

United Way’s Healthy Meals is working to dramatically increase the number of well-balanced nutritious (and FREE) meals that local children eat to give them the nutrition they need to learn, play and grow. 

In the capital region, one in five children does not have enough food. Federal programs exist to help kids, but many nonprofits and schools lack staff or technical support to make these programs happen in their communities. We’re filling those gaps to ensure every child has access to nutritious meals, even during the summer months when they are out of school. In fact, only 19% of youth in our area who participated in the school lunch program received a meal during the summer months. We’re working to increase that number in the Sacramento region. 

Since Healthy Meals launched in 2014, we have served more than 620,135 healthy meals in after-school programs and during the summer months. We currently serve more than 1,200 healthy meals per day in after-school programs in Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties.

Your financial support ensures that programs like Healthy Meals continue to grow and help more kids and families in our region. Give today.

Fuel Your Summer at these United Way sponsored sites
Free and nutritious meals for local kids

United Way’s Summer Meals Program provides free and nutritious meals for children who may otherwise not have access during the summer months when they are out of school from June through August 2019. (Dates and hours may vary per location.)

Free meals will be provided to ALL children, without eligibility documentation, who are 18 years and younger.This partnership is also made possible with the support of  2-1-1 Sacramento.

More Than Just Free Meals
Nurse Scholars teach kids about nutrition and wellness at free summer meal program sites.

United Way’s Summer Meals 2018 Program provided free and nutritious meals for children who may otherwise not have access during the summer months when they are out of school. This year, we have continued a partnership with Samuel Merritt University and their Nurse Scholars for a second summer. This partnership is also made possible with the support of UC Cooperative Extension and 2-1-1 Sacramento.


Straight to the source
Students in our Healthy Meals program visit local farm

Situated in the heart of the farm-to-fork capital, our Healthy Meals program has been working diligently to incorporate locally sourced foods into our meals. Moreover, we felt it would be appropriate to take the students in our program straight to the source by going on farm field trips.

In order to make this come to fruition, the Raley’s Extra Credit Grant was awarded to the Robla School District in April 2018 to support a project led in partnership with United Way California Capital Region, providing youth field trips to Fiery Ginger Farm, an urban farm in West Sacramento.

Summer Associates 2017

United Way AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates Help Alleviate Summer Learning Loss and Food Insecurity
Highlighting our AmeriCorps VISTAs

According to the California Department of Education, summer programs are crucial to prevent learning loss and food insecurity, especially for many children from low-income families. For this reason, United Way California Capital Region deployed AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates to various summer programs, especially those with a focus on education and nutrition.


‘You Art What You Eat’ drawing contest
Students at Healthy Meals sites show off drawing skills

A healthy support system is critical for children to succeed in school. Our Healthy Meals program provides children with free, nutritious meals so they can stay on track. But, leading a healthy lifestyle goes well beyond what you eat. The children that receive food through our Healthy Meals program are learning to create healthy habits through nutrition education and enrichment activities.

Square One Project Stephanie McLemore Bray

Food for Thought
Showcasing the importance of nutritious meals and engagement during summer

When I was a child, every weekday at noon during the summer, a truck would lumber down the street where I lived and many of my friends would run behind it until it stopped at the end of the block. My friends would come back up the street with a tray that had a sandwich, a small container of apple juice or milk, and a piece of fruit or a fruit cup. For many, it was the only meal they would have that day. I was fortunate: I did not know what food insecurity was. It saddens me to know that after all these many years, there are far too many children who are food insecure.


Students help craft Healthy Meals menu

Good health is critical for children to stay in and succeed in school. Our Healthy Meals program works to ensure every child has access to nutritious meals so they can focus on learning.

As we looked to make menu updates, we figured we might as well go right to the source – the kids – and have them help Davis Joint Unified School District decide what goes on our Healthy Meals menus. Over the last month, we’ve been working with various sites to have the kids do taste testing.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s an inside look into the tastings:


Healthy Meals Program Receives Grant from Walmart Foundation

To effectively address hunger and create lifelong healthy habits, nutrition education and enrichment activities that will support healthy eating and active living are critical. Funding from the Walmart Foundation will help enhance the Healthy Meals Program by supporting nutrition education and cooking skills enrichment activities at program sites.

Nutrition education will be offered to youth at our meals sites and to their parents and families to support positive change for the entire family. Opportunities will be provided for youth to participate in garden-based cooking education activities that will allow youth to participate in lessons about seasonality, harvest, and how to prepare, store, and cook fresh fruits and vegetables.

Thank you to the Walmart Foundation for your generous support of the Healthy Meals Program!


USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.


Free Summer Meals
When school is out for summer, healthy (FREE) summer meals are here

United Way’s Healthy Meals program serves nutritious and delicious lunches and snacks to children and teens 18 years and younger. 

All meals are made with high-quality ingredients, minimally processed and are filled with nutrients!

Our summer meals program kicks off on June 1st! Check out United Way’s summer meal sites listed below. 

Fuel up for summer with United Way!


Sacramento Summer Meals Collaborative

In early 2016, the Sacramento Summer Meals Collaborative was formed to bring together the region’s Summer Food Service Program Sponsors and community advocates to collaborate on ways to increase the involvement of youth in summer programs, raise awareness about summer meals and community feeding/meal sites, develop and implement a region-wide outreach and marketing plan, and provide sites and sponsors with a best practices toolkit including topics ranging from meal ordering to improved summer programming.

We encourage anyone interested in addressing childhood hunger during the summer to join our collaborative. Our next meeting will be held in February 2018.

For more information about joining the collaborative, contact Sayla Elsbree-Kraft or (916) 856-3997.