When school is out, many children are at risk for poor nutrition. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federal program that ensures children (18 years and younger) in lower-income areas continue to receive free, nutritious meals during the summer when they do not have access to the School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program.

Healthy summer meals may be served at a variety of sites, such as schools, parks, camps, housing complexes, churches and town halls. Many sites offer organized and/or recreational activities with the meal. Meals may be prepared on site or transported from another location.

Most sponsors may be approved to receive reimbursement for serving up to two meals or one meal and a snack per day (usually breakfast and lunch or lunch and a snack). Camps may claim up to three meals per day. All meals must follow the SFSP USDA Meal Pattern requirements and dietary specifications.

How to Participate in the SFSP

Make an investment in the children in your community. If your organization already provides services to the community and has capable staff and good management practices to run a food service then you can administer SFSP. Administering agencies are referred to as sponsors.

The types of sponsors that may participate include:

  • Public and private, non-profit boards of education;
  • Private non-profit organizations;
  • Residential summer camps;
  • Federal, state, local, municipal or county government agencies; and
  • Community and faith-based organizations.

As a sponsor, you will:

  • Attend a WVDE OCN training and submit an on-line application;
  • Determine eligible sites and hire, train and supervise staff;
  • Arrange for meals to be prepared or delivered;
  • Monitor your sites; and
  • Prepare claims for reimbursement.

Some organizations do not have the financial or administrative ability to run the program, but may operate a site. If you operate a site, you will:

  • Attend your sponsor’s training;
  • Serve meals that follow the SFSP meal pattern;
  • Supervise the meal service and any activities at the site;
  • Keep daily records of meals served; and
  • Maintain a clean and sanitary site.

Organizations with kitchens and food service staff, including schools, commercial companies, or public or non-profit institutions, can participate in the SFSP as vendors. Instead of administering or supervising a meal service site, a vendor sells prepared meals under an agreement or a contract with an approved SFSP sponsor.

As a vendor, you will:

  • Prepare meals that meet the SFSP meal pattern and dietary specifications;
  • Follow appropriate health and sanitation standards; and
  • Maintain delivery records.

If your organization cannot take on the responsibilities of a sponsor or a site, you can team up with a sponsor to provide:

  • Arts/crafts, dramatics, music, entertainment;
  • Mentoring, tutoring, academics;
  • Coaching, athletics, swimming, games;
  • Life skills, gardening, cooking; or
  • Any other activity that makes summer fun!