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, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) bridges the “nutrition gap.”
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is looking for organizations to sponsor the 2013 SFSP and provide free meals to Minnesota children 18 and under during the summer when school is out. There are many underserved areas in need of a sponsor to operate a summer feeding site, especially in greater Minnesota. Sponsors receive training, technical assistance and reimbursement for providing meals to children 18 and under in areas of economic need.
“Good nutrition is a critical piece in a student’s learning,” said MDE Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. “Healthy students are more attentive and ready to learn. The Summer Food Service Program guarantees our low-income children will not lose access to the nutritious meals they receive during the regular school year. I encourage schools, park and recreation programs, faith-based organizations, and other nonprofit organizations that provide educational and recreational activities for children during the summer to offer meals through the Summer Food Service Program.”
Program sites are often located at local schools, recreation and community centers, parks, and other locations operated by youth, cultural and faith-based organizations. In 2012, the SFSP had 586 sites operated by 134 sponsors. These sites served nearly 2.2 million meals to children, a 12.23 percent increase from 2011.
A sponsoring organization must be a:
- 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 college or university; or a private nonprofit organization.
Interested schools and nonprofit organizations may register their interest by submitting the Interest Survey-New Participants, available on the MDE website under School Support, Food and Nutrition Program Administration, Summer Food Service. An informational meeting will be held on February 14 at MDE. Basic workshops will be held be held in Roseville, Walker and Marshall during April.