Summer will be here soon. With the sunshine and warm temperatures, also comes greater food insecurity for thousands of at-risk children in low-income households today. Without access to regular meals at school, kids face health ramifications, anxiety and potential developmental delays.
School foodservice directors and nonprofit youth program leaders can minimize hunger for these kids by participating in one of two federally reimbursed USDA programs: the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO).
The SFSP is open to schools and nonprofit organizations that serve children through youth enrichment programs and summer camps. Under the Summer Food Service Program, eligible schools and nonprofit organizations must be in geographic areas where at least 50 percent of children receive free or reduced-price school lunches. The USDA provides reimbursement for each meal served to youth 18 and younger that meets USDA federal nutritional guidelines for child nutrition programs. Reimbursement rates are available here.
Here’s how it works: Schools and nonprofit organizations can choose to be “sponsors” or feeding sites operating under supervision of a sponsor. In addition to managing the foodservice program for your own school or organization, sponsors also oversee one or more feeding sites within your SFSP-approved geographic vicinity. As the sponsor, you provide meals to all feeding sites and report meal counts to the USDA for reimbursement. Feeding sites must operate under the same USDA rules and guidance for the SFSP as the sponsor and are responsible for raising awareness of the free meals in their respective areas of service.
Schools that serve meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) during the school year may prefer to provide summer meals through the SSO. It allows school foodservice directors to follow the same operational guidelines for foodservice during the school year and summer, making summer meals simply an extension of what you’re already doing. The SSO reimbursement rate is at NSLP rates, which are less than the SFSP reimbursement rate.
If you choose to go with the SSO, NutriStudents K-12 can greatly simplify your menu-planning process. We are the only provider that offers a 30-week rotation of student-approved lunch menus for NSLP (and CACFP). These same menus are also available to our clients participating in the Seamless Summer Option. You can rest assured of compliance as our menus and recipes are certified by a registered dietitian to comply with all USDA nutritional guidelines.
You can use our menu weeks exclusively or in combination with your own and in any order you choose. Whether you operate a 4-day, 5-day or 7-day a week program, NutriStudents K-12 can help. Every entree, whether it’s a perennial student favorite or a newer food trend, has been tested and approved by kids of varying ages and diverse backgrounds.
This chart outlines the differences between SFSP, SSO, NSLP and School Breakfast Program. The USDA also offers a wide range of additional resources, such as a Summer Food Service Program Fact Sheet (in English and in Spanish) and Summer Meals Toolkit. Contact your state agency for details and instructions to apply for the programs.
Please help fill a critical need for kids this summer by providing nutritious meals. The USDA and state agencies are currently seeking organizations like yours to offer these summer programs for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.
Schedule a demo with us today to see how we can simplify your foodservice program!