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 the Department’s Summer Food Service Program. New sponsors must apply by May 31, 2023.
“Hunger impacts families across the commonwealth and creates significant barriers to learning and development. For many students, their only access to healthy meals is found at school,” said State Director of Child Nutrition Programs Vonda Ramp. “We’re calling on organizations across the commonwealth to join us in combating hunger and helping students receive nutritious meals during the summer months, even when school is not in session.”
Last summer, more than 200 organizations provided nutritious meals to children at over 1,750 locations throughout the state. However, to reach more children and narrow the hunger gap that summer may bring, more organizations and meal sites are needed throughout the state, 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 a 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 over 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 the Summer Food Service Program sites.