Perceived Benefits and Barriers to Free Summer Meal Participation Among Parents in New York City.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


To examine perceived benefits and barriers of summer meal participation among lower-income families who participate in school lunch programs during the year.


Semistructured phone interviews were conducted with parents of elementary-aged children, including both participants and nonparticipants in summer meals.


Queens, Bronx, and Brooklyn, NY.


Participants were lower-income, racially/ethnically diverse parents of elementary-aged children. Of 20 participants, 17 were minorities (85%), 16 were women (80%), and 11 had an annual household income < $30,000 (55%).

Phenomenon of interest

Interviews explored parents' experiences with summer meals programs, the impact on food provisioning in the summer, and benefits and barriers.


Interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed thematically.


Five themes emerged, including 3 benefits of summer meals: reducing stress for parents, fostering social support and connection, and the opportunity to develop healthier eating habits; and 2 barriers to participation: lack of cultural inclusivity and lack of widespread knowledge about summer meals.

Conclusions and implications

The main purpose of summer meals is to reduce food insecurity, but the programs also provide social and psychological benefits valued by lower-income families in New York, although participation barriers persist.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kannam, A; Wilson, NLW; Chomitz, VR; Ladin, K

Published Date

  • September 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 51 / 8

Start / End Page

  • 976 - 984

PubMed ID

  • 31186210

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1878-2620

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1499-4046

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jneb.2019.05.592


  • eng