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 Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program. Summer meal programs, including the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) 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 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 presented the Turnip the Beet awards annually from 2016 – 2019. Turnip the Beet is back for 2021, although the award looks slightly different this year. While the themes of the award criteria remain the same, the actual questions, timing, and scoring system have been updated based on the excellent feedback received from sponsors and state agencies. New checklists for state agencies and FNS regional offices are also included in the nomination form to streamline the evaluation of nomination packets and ensure the awards are distributed accurately. Finally, as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to affect program operations, there are questions about COVID-related waivers used by summer sponsors. Turnip the Beet is intended to award sponsors for excellence during the summer months; thus for 2021, SFSP and SSO sponsors in good standing that serve program meals between May 15 and Sept. 15, 2021, are eligible for a nomination.
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:
- The Nutrition Guide for Sponsors includes best practices and tips for serving high quality meals and incorporating local foods, as well as sample cycle menus.
- The Team Nutrition Resource Library has free nutrition education materials to help reinforce and complement the nutrition messages taught by serving healthful foods.
- The Farm to Summer Factsheet describes how to “bring the farm” to summer sites.
- The Summer Meals Toolkit offers healthy menu planning ideas and tips for serving meals family style.