PA Department Of Ed: Apply Now To Sponsor Summer Meals For At-Risk Students

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is encouraging organizations across the state to help provide nutritious meals to children in low-income areas during the summer months through PDE’s Summer Food Service Program. Sponsors must apply by May 31, 2022.

“Hunger impacts families across the commonwealth; it does not discriminate,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Noe Ortega. “The unfortunate reality is that for many students, their only access to healthy meals is found at school. We know that hunger creates significant barriers to learning and development, and we call on organizations across the commonwealth to join us as we combat hunger during the summer months—and help students receive nutritious meals even when school is not in session.”

Last summer, nearly 250 organizations provided nutritious meals to children at more than 2,400 locations across the state. However, to reach more children and narrow the hunger gap that summer may bring, more organizations and meal sites are needed, especially in rural areas.

Participating organizations are reimbursed for meals served to children 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.

Participating organizations must be year-round, not-for-profit entities, which include schools, local, municipal or county governments, libraries, churches, fire and police stations, residential summer camps, and national youth sports programs. Organizations approved to sponsor the Summer Food Service Program are responsible for managing the feeding sites that provide the 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 per day, but they are reimbursed only for meals served to children eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.

The Summer Food Service Program, which began in 1976, is a federally funded child nutrition program designed to reach those who are age 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas. People older than 18 who are mentally or physically handicapped and participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for the disabled are also able to receive free meals at Summer Food Service Program sites.