Summer School Lunch Programs: Serving Year-Round Nutrition

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Summer is just around the corner, and that means most schools will be finished with their cafeteria duties until fall. But many schools throughout the country participate in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The SFSP was created to help low-income children receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.  All children 18 years old and younger are eligible to receive free meals through the summer lunch programs at approved SFSP sites in areas where there is a significant concentration of low-income children.

Summer lunch program background

The SFSP started in 1968 as an amendment to the National School Lunch Act. In 1975, it became a separate program. Currently, the SFSP is the largest federal resource for local sponsors to combine children’s nutrition programs with summer activity programs.  The SFSP is administered by Food and Nutrition Service, which is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. In the summer of 2012, about 39,000 sites provided meals to more than 2.28 million children.  In 2012, Congress spent $398 million on the SFSP programs across the country.

Why have summer lunch programs?

When school is out, only 1 out of 7 children who receive free or reduced lunches during the regular school year will continue to receive meals during the summer months. Good nutrition is essential for children’s physical and social development. Schools, local governments, camps, non-profit universities, and private non-profit organizations can sponsor SFSP programs. Resources for those interested can be found at the Food and Nutrition Service website. These resources includes a Summer Meals ToolkitFAQs for sponsors, and tips on how to raise awareness. As a part of this program, sites will be reimbursed, based on the number of meals served.

A sponsor site has the option to prepare its own meals, purchase meals through another school, or contract meals from a food service management company.  For sites that have their own kitchen and are able to prepare their own meals for the summer lunch program, a higher rate of reimbursement is given for “self-prep” rates.

Central’s school cafeteria products

School trays, Summer Lunch Programs

Central carries everything you need for your school cafeteria.

Whether your school is preparing for a summer lunch program, or getting ready for the upcoming school year, Central has you covered. If you need equipment – check out our selection of refrigeration, cooking, and food prep. We also carry supplies such as food trays and pans, as well as school furniture for your seating needs. If you’re not sure where to start, we have a school product buying guide. We also have expert solutions online, and many manufacturers offer extended warranties to schools. Shop online or call 800-215-9293 to speak to a product consultant!

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