smiling Asian girl holding a spoon
Two children holding up vegetables from a garden
happy playing kids

Happy Helpings, Healthy Communities

For many kids across Georgia, summer break ushers in more fun and free time. But for kids facing food insecurity—made worse by COVID’s impact on already tight-family budgets—no school can also mean limited access to affordable, nutritious foods.

Enter Happy Helpings. This summer food service program, funded by the USDA and administered by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, provides free, healthy meals and snacks to children under 19 who need them.

Too Many of Georgia’s Kids Go Hungry


The child food insecurity rate increased by 39% among the total population of children in Georgia since 2018.*


Nearly 59% of Georgia’s children attending public school eat free or reduced school lunches.


Since the pandemic began in March 2020, 66 sponsors have served more than 16 million meals.

*Source: Atlanta Community Food Bank & Feeding America.

Child Food Insecurity Can Contribute To:

  • Delayed development in young children

  • Risk of chronic illnesses possibly leading to hospitalizations

  • Behavioral problems like hyperactivity, anxiety and aggression in school-age children

  • Risk of chronic illnesses possibly leading to hospitalizations

How The Program Works

The Happy Helpings summer food service program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services. The Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) approves sponsor applications, conducts training, monitors program operations, and processes reimbursement payments to all sponsors serving free, healthy meals to eligible children in their community.

Preparing Nutritious Meals for Georgia’s Children