In a recent op-ed column in The Philadelphia Tribune, Children’s Defense Fund president Marian Wright Edelman wrote that the participation gap between the National School Lunch Program and the Summer Food Service Program means that nine out of ten children receiving lunch “may not be receiving the nourishment necessary for proper physical, cognitive, and social development during the long summer months.” During the 2013-14 school year 21.7 million children received free or reduced-price school lunch, but only 2.6 million (12.2 percent) participated in the Summer Food Service Program. There has been work toward improving the numbers, and Edelman notes that the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) reported the number of summer sponsors and sites increased between July 2013 and July 2014.
More and more school districts are realizing the importance of the Summer Food Service Program. One new participant, for example, is the Piedmont school district in Alabama, which will offer free summer meals to all students. Reported in the The Anniston Star, the district will offer free summer meals to all students, not just low-income, to avoid any issue of stigma. They plan to start a federally funded summer breakfast and lunch program to feed children and teens for free. The administration hopes to begin the summer by feeding more than 300 students and increase to 900 by the end of summer.
Does your district participate in the Summer Food Service Program? If not, we’d be happy to help you get started as we have extensive experience in summer meal programs. We suggest you keep summer simple by using prepackaged meals. You can convert your Seamless Summer Option (SSO under NSLP) to the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to lower meal costs, have easier menu compliance and higher reimbursements. By offering a breakfast and lunch programs instead of a lunch and snack, you can generate the highest revenue.