Pennsylvania Department of Education Seeks Sponsors for Summer Meals Nutrition Programs

Pennsylvania Department of Education Seeks Sponsors for Summer Meals Nutrition ProgramsImage by Per Waernborg/Pixabay

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Education is asking organizations across the state to consider providing nutritious meals to youth during the summer months (June – September) through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program.

The Summer Food Service Program, which began in 1976, is a federally funded child nutrition program designed to serve youths ages 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas. Individuals over age 18 who are mentally or physically disabled and participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for the disabled are also eligible to receive free meals at the Summer Food Service Program sites. The program’s regulations allow participating organizations to be reimbursed for meals served to youth who live in areas in which at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.

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Due to the pandemic, the Summer Food Service Program was approved to operate beginning March of 2019 and continues to operate in off-summer times to ensure children across Pennsylvania have access to meals during COVID-19.

“The Summer Food Service Program removes barriers, so that children don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from,” Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega said. “I am grateful to food service staff and sponsors across Pennsylvania for their tireless work to ensure that children will continue to have access to nutritious meals in locations throughout their community – even during the time of year when schools are not fully in session.”

Approximately 250 organizations normally participate in the Summer Food Service Program, providing nutritious meals to children at over 2,200 locations across Pennsylvania during the summer season. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a greater need for more sites throughout the state.

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Participating organizations must be year-round, not-for-profit entities – this may include schools; local, municipal, or county governments; libraries; places of worship; fire and police stations; summer camps; and national youth sports programs. Organizations approved to sponsor the Summer Food Service Program are responsible for managing the sites that provide meals to children.

Most participating organizations may be reimbursed for up to two meals a day: lunch or dinner, and breakfast or a snack. Those serving primarily migrant children may be reimbursed for up to three meals a day. Camps may serve up to three meals a day, but they are reimbursed only for meals served to children eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

The deadline to apply to become a participating organization is June 15, 2021. For more information, visit PDE’s website: www.education.pa.gov/sfsp or call 800-331-0129.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

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For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website at www.education.pa.gov.

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