School breakfasts and lunches are critical in preventing children from experiencing hunger. More than 30 million children in the United States rely on free or reduced-price meals at school as their primary source of nutrition. So, what happens to these children when summer arrives and the school year ends? Unfortunately, many children will face starvation or malnutrition. To combat this, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), enabling community leaders to establish free summer meal delivery sites around the country.
Below, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about this free summer meals program:
- What is the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)?
- Who is eligible for the program?
- How does the program work?
- How can I find a location in my community?
- Is it considered a public charge to receive this help?
What is the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)?
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally-funded, state-administered program. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds this program to decrease the millions of children in the US who suffer from hunger and food anxiety during the summer months, since they rely on free or reduced-price meals during the school year. All meals and snacks served through the SFSP must meet federal nutrition standards and require servings of grains, proteins, fruits and vegetables, and milk.
Who is eligible for the program?
Children 18 and younger may receive free meals and snacks through SFSP. Meals and snacks are also available to persons with disabilities over age 18 who participate in school programs for those who are mentally or physically disabled.
How does the program work?
The Summer Food Service Program reimburses providers who serve free healthy meals to children and teens in low-income areas during the summer months when school is not in session. These providers set up sites in the community where children receive free meals in a safe and supervised environment. These sites can be places such as parks, community centers, churches, health clinics, and more.
How can I find a site in my community?
To find a meal service site near your community, use the Summer Meal Site Finder mapping tool. All you have to do is enter your zip code and the closest sites to you will appear as well as their contact information and hours of operation.
You can also text “Summer Meals” to 914-342-7744 or call 1-866-348-6479 to find a site near you. No registrations or applications are required.
Is it considered a public charge to receive this help?
No, it is not considered a public charge if your children receive this help. Therefore, it does not affect your immigration status. For more information, click here.