According to Advocates for Children of New Jersey’s 2011 Kids Count Report. 445,000 children in New Jersey rely on free or reduced priced school meals. When school lets out for the summer, children lose access to these meals, which keep them well-fed during the school year. Meals provided through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) can help fill this critical gap and relieve some of the financial burden that families may experience during the summer months. For afterschool programs that continue into the summer, SFSP provides a great opportunity to receive funding for meals.
The Summer Food Service Program provides federal funding through reimbursement for organizations to serve meals and snacks to low-income children (age 18 and under at the beginning of the summer break) during the summer, when school is not in session. The program is administered at the federal level by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and on the local level by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA), which works with site sponsors directly.
What is a site sponsor and who can be one?
Each physical location where meals are served is called a feeding site. A site sponsor is an organization that manages the Summer Food Service Program for each feeding site. In order to be approved as a sponsor, you must be fully aware of the regulations for running the program and be financially and administratively responsible. Sponsors are also responsible for training the staff at the feeding sites and reporting to the state.
Sponsor applicants may include:
- private nonprofit organizations
- units of local, municipal, county, tribal, or State government
- public or private nonprofit schools or school food service authorities
- public or private nonprofit camps
- public or private nonprofit universities or colleges
What qualifies as a feeding site for summer meals and what are the differences?
Many different settings can qualify as meal service sites. Examples include schools, recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, churches, community centers, day camps, residential summer camps, housing projects, migrant centers, and Indian reservations. Responsibilities of the feeding sites include feeding and supervising the kids and providing activities.
- Designed to serve children in low-income areas
- At least 50% or more of the children in the area served qualify for free or reduced priced meals
- All children age 18 and under receive free meals on a first-come first serve basis
Closed Enrolled sites
- Designed to serve children who may not live in an area that is designated as low-income, but are still in need
- At least 50% or more of the children enrolled in the program qualify for free or reduced priced meals
- All children enrolled in the program (age 18 and under) receive free meals
- Offer regularly scheduled food service along with organized activities for enrolled residential or day campers
- Receive reimbursement for meals served only to children who qualify for free or reduced priced meals
- Primarily serve children of migrant workers
- If the site has appropriate certification from a migrant organization, all children will receive free meals
National Youth Sports Programs (NYSP)
- Children must be enrolled in the program to receive free meals.
How many meals can I receive reimbursement for?
Most sites are approved to serve 2 meals OR 1 meal and 1 snack.
Sites that serve primarily migrant children or are residential (“sleep-away”) or day camps may be approved to serve up to 3 meals each day.
Where will my meals come from?
A sponsor may choose to prepare its own meals, set up an agreement to purchase meals from an area school, or contract to purchase meals through a food service provider or vendor.
If your site is equipped with a kitchen suitable for preparing meals or you have access to one, you may want to prepare your meals yourself. If you lack kitchen facilities, you may purchase meals from a school or another public or private food supplier.
How much federal funding will I receive?
The amount of funding will vary for each program. The reimbursement rates are based on the number of meals served multiplied by a set rate that depends on the situation of the individual program. So, the more meals you serve, the more reimbursement you will receive. NJDA will work with you to determine your exact amount of reimbursement.
How do I get started?
- Review the resources below to get a better overview of the Summer Food Service Program.
- Contact NJSACC: We will work with you one-on-one to see if the Summer Food Service Program is right for you. We can also assist sites with finding potential sponsors and help you look into vendor options.
- Contact NJDA at 609-292-4498 for more information on the program and to start the application process. The deadline to submit an application is June 15th.
- A Guide To Starting The Summer Food Service Program In Your Community
- New Jersey Department of Agriculture Overview of the Summer Food Service Program
- USDA Guide to Starting the Summer Food Service Program in Your Community
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service Summer Food Service Program Free Introductory Webinars
- Best Practices from Across the Nation – USDA Food and Nutrition Service Summer Food Service
- USDA Summer Food Service Program Outreach Toolkit for Sponsors and Feeding Sites
- FRAC (Food Research and Action Center) – Summer Nutrition Programs
- FRAC – Model Summer Meals Menu
- FRAC – Fresh From the Farm: Using Local Foods in the Afterschool and Summer Programs