During the school year, many Minnesota families depend on free or reduced-price meals their children get at school to provide nourishment. When school is out for the summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) can provide funding for meals for children to bridge the nutrition gap during the summer months.
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) encourages eligible schools and organizations to sponsor the SFSP and provide free meals to Minnesota children ages 18 and under when school is out for the summer. There are many low-income areas in Minnesota that are underserved and in need of a sponsor to operate a summer feeding site, especially in Greater Minnesota. MDE provides sponsors with SFSP training, on-site technical assistance, and meal reimbursement funding for providing meals to children ages 18 and under in areas of economic need.
“During the summer months, many children can lose access to the nutritious meals they receive during the regular school year,” said Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. “The Summer Food Service Program fills this gap by providing free meals and snacks to eligible children 18 years and younger, helping them return to school in the fall ready to learn. I’d like to thank all our community partners pulling together to ensure kids have full stomachs, and often fun activities, too, that bridge the learning gap for our youth.”
Program sites are often located at local schools, recreation and community centers, parks, family housing complexes and other locations operated by youth, cultural and faith-based organizations.
Last summer in Minnesota, more than 200 schools and organizations operated over 930 SFSP meal sites and served over 3-million meals to children ages 18 and under. The Summer Food Service Program currently reaches only 18 percent of children from low-income families that normally receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year, so MDE is looking to grow the program.
A sponsoring organization must be one of the following:
• public or nonprofit private school food authority
• public or nonprofit private residential summer camp
• unit of local, municipal, county or state government
• public or nonprofit private college or university
If you are interested in being a new sponsor or becoming a SFSP site under an existing sponsor, contact MDE Food and Nutrition Service at 651-582-8526, 1-800-366-8922 (toll-free), or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the Summer Food Service Program is available on the MDE website and USDA Summer Food Service Program website.