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Help Feed Kids This Summer

Wednesday May 1st, 2019
When school lessons end for the summer, so do the free meals that school districts offer to children of low-income parents. However, townships that participate in the Summer Food Service Program can still make sure children in their community get the nutrition they need. The deadline to apply to be a sponsor is June 15.
 
“The Summer Food Service Program is a critical initiative that ensures students are receiving proper nutrition, even when they aren’t in school,” state Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said in a news release. “No child should ever be denied access to healthy and nutritious food, and keeping students well over the summer break perpares them to return to school ready to learn.”
 
The program, administered by the state Department of Education, allows townships to provide nutritious meals and creates summer employment opportunities for local residents.
 
According to the department, 306 organizations participated in the program last summer, providing nutritious meals to children at more than 2,600 locations across the state. However, to reach more children and narrow the hunger gap that may grow in the summer, more organizations and meal sites are needed throughout the state, especially in rural areas.
 
The program is flexible so townships may choose how many days a week to serve food. Most program participants provide meals five days a week with a few serving on Saturdays. However, the Department of Education encourages participating sites to offer more meals if possible. Meals may be served seven days a week. 
 
All children under 18 years of age may receive free meals regardless of their families’ income if the site draws participants from areas where at least 50 percent of the children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Townships should contact their local school district or the Department of Education for information on the percentage of children eligible for free and reduced-price meals in their municipality. 
 
Townships are also being encouraged to partner with other community organizations to support a site. For example, one organization might supply volunteers, another could transport food and/or children to the site, and another could provide activities. Sharing these responsibilities can be more feasible than one organization working alone.
 
Township sponsors will be reimbursed $2.30 for each breakfast, $4.03 for each dinner, and $0.95 for each snack served.  
 
For more information about the program and application deadlines, go to www.education.pa.gov/sfsp, call toll-free (800) 331-0129, or email ra-sfsp@pa.gov.