PA Department of Education Seeks Sponsors for Summer Meals and Nutrition Programs

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is seeking 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.

Participating organizations must be year-round, not-for-profit entities, which include schools, local, municipal, or county governments, libraries, churches, 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 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.

“Every summer thousands of young Pennsylvanians participate in the Summer Food Service Program,” Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said. “Programs like this are critical to ensuring students have access to nutritious meals over the summer when not in school, which helps prevent the summer slide and prepares them to return to school healthy and ready to learn.”

Rivera added that nearly 300 organizations participated during the summer of 2019, providing nutritious meals to children at over 2,400 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.

The Summer Food Service Program, which began in 1976, is a federally-funded child nutrition program designed to reach youths 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 program sites.

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.

Nearly 61 million breakfast meals and 115 million lunch meals were served to free and reduced-price eligible children in Pennsylvania during the 2018- 2019 school year under the School Nutrition Program. However, only 14 out of every 100 students receiving free and reduced-price meals during the school year accessed nutritious summer meals.

Click here for more information on becoming a participating organization or a meal site for the Summer Food Service Program. The deadline to apply is June 15, 2020.

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