Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Education is encouraging organizations across the state to help provide nutritious meals to children in low-income areas during the summer months through the Department’s Summer Food Service Program.
“Every summer thousands of young Pennsylvanians participate in the Summer Food Service Program,” Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said. “Programs like this are critical to ensuring students have access to nutritious meals over the summer, which helps prevent the summer slide, and prepares them to return to school healthy and ready to learn.”
Rivera added that during the summer of 2016, 295 organizations participated in the Summer Food Service Program, providing nutritious meals to children at over 2,600 locations throughout the state, however to reach more children and narrow the hunger gap that summer may bring, more organizations and meal sites are needed throughout the state, especially in rural areas.
The Summer Food Service Program, which began in 1976, is a federally-funded child nutrition program designed to reach those who are age 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas. People over 18 who are mentally or physically handicapped and participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for the disabled are also able to receive free meals at the Summer Food Service Program sites.
Under the program participating organizations are reimbursed for meals served to children who live in areas in which at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.
More than 112 million meals were served to free and reduced price eligible children in Pennsylvania during the 2015-16 school year under the National School Lunch Program. However, only 19 out of every 100 students receiving free and reduced price meals during the school year accessed nutritious summer meals.
Participating organizations must be year-round, not-for-profit entities, which include schools, local, municipal or county governments, libraries, churches, fire and police stations, residential summer camps, and national youth sports programs. Organizations approved to sponsor the Summer Food Service Program are responsible for managing the feeding sites that provide the meals to children.
Most participating organizations may be reimbursed for up to two meals a day: lunch or dinner, and breakfast or a snack. Those serving primarily migrant children may be reimbursed for up to three meals a day. Camps may serve up to three meals a day, but they are reimbursed only for meals served to children eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.
For more information on becoming a participating organization or a meal site for the summer Food Service Program, view the website at www.education.state.pa.us/sfsp or call 800.331.0129. The deadline to apply is June 15, 2017.