Turnip the Beet! High Quality Summer Meals Award Program
The Turnip the Beet Award recognizes outstanding summer meal program sponsors across the nation who work hard to offer high quality meals to children that are appetizing, appealing, and nutritious during the summer months.
Summer meals are critical in the lives of millions of our nation’s youth, whose risk for food insecurity increases during the summer months when they no longer have access to the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Summer meal programs, including the SFSP and the Seamless Summer Option within the NSLP, present the opportunity to help alleviate summertime food insecurity and positively impact children’s growth and development by offering nutritious meals and encouraging children to develop healthy habits at a young age. High quality summer meals provide daily energy, and help make sure children are healthy and ready to learn when they return to school in the fall. The Turnip the Beet Award program was created to showcase sponsors who are going above and beyond to ensure that children in their care are receiving high-quality meals that are both nutritious and appetizing.
FNS launched the Turnip the Beet Award in summer 2016. One hundred and twenty-three sponsors earned Bronze, Silver, or Goal awards in 2018. The 2018 Turnip the Beet awardees were recognized in the August 2019 edition of the FNS Summer Newsletter. The Silver and Gold Turnip the Beet awardees are featured on the USDA Blog and the Gold Turnip the Beet winners are featured on FNS’ Summer Capacity Builder.
FNS is in the process of updating the Turnip the Beet criteria and process based on the excellent feedback received from sponsors and state agencies during the first three years of the award. Stay tuned for more details on future awards in the coming months!
Resources for Serving High Quality Meals
FNS has an abundance of resources available to sponsors to help make summer meals more appetizing, appealing, and nutritious:
- Nutrition Guide includes best practices and tips for serving high quality meals and incorporating local foods, as well as sample cycle menus;
- Team Nutrition Resource Library has free nutrition education materials to help reinforce and complement the nutrition messages taught by serving healthful foods;
- Farm to Summer website has an abundance of ideas for “bringing the farm” to summer sites, using local foods to improve meal quality, and keeping kids engaged with hands-on activities; and
- Summer Meals Toolkit offers healthy menu planning ideas and tips for serving meals family style.