How to start a Summer lunch program: SFSP to fight hunger and malnutrition

In America, many children are unable to get nutritional meals, and they deserve to get assistance from the government.

In the wake of the prevailing situation – regarding malnutrition and hunger – the federal government has started a Summer Food Service Program for children who require food assistance all-year-round.

You must be wondering, why the program is initiated only in summers and not all year round. Because, this particular assistance program is for children who are 18 years of age or are under. These children tend to get nutritional food and meals in their school only. However, during summers, when schools are closed, these children need assistance to fight hunger and malnutrition for three months.

Without further ado, let us tell you all about the Summer Food Service Program. We will also look at how to start a Summer Lunch Program.

What is the Summer Food Service Program and how does it work?

The Food and Nutrition Agency works under the United States Department of Agriculture, and it is responsible to administer the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Moreover, the Food and Nutrition Agency decides the policies for the program and the payment rates as well.

However, the federal agency cannot control all of the 52 states of the US. This is why educational agencies take over from the federal agency to ensure the program runs as per the Food and Nutrition Agency’s guidelines.

Once the Food and Nutrition Agency sets the guidelines, the state agencies then review the application of the sponsors and conduct a training session for the ones who get the approval.

Apart from conducting training and choosing sponsors, these agencies also take care of program payments and monitor the operations altogether.

After selecting the sponsors, these sponsors get reimbursement to serve free meals that fulfill the federal nutritional guidelines criteria to the eligible children.

The payments directly comes from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).


Who are sponsors and what do they do?

Sponsors are responsible to manage Summer Food Service Program sites. To become a sponsor, your organization must be capable of managing a food service program. These sponsors are responsible to administer the program financially, ensure the program runs smoothly, and the food reaches the eligible children.

If you wish to become a sponsor, you must belong to the below-mentioned options.

  • a public or private nonprofit school
  • a public or Private nonprofit college or university
  • a private nonprofit organization
  • State government units, including municipal units, tribal units, county units, or local units.
  • nonprofit camps (public or private)

If you are unaware of your duties, fret not, because we have got you covered.

Before anything else, you will have to attend the training sessions conducted by your state’s agency. Secondly, you will be posted to the eligible sites by the agency. Once you are recruited, then you will have to train your team; volunteers, and supervising staff.

After the initial training, you will be responsible to arrange, prepare and distribute meals at your designated site. Moreover, you will also be entitled to claim reimbursement for SFSP on the basis that you ensure sustainable summer food projects and sites via community partnerships, volunteer recruitment, and fundraising.

As of now, you are aware of, who sponsors are and what they need to do. For a more detailed overview of how to start a summer lunch program, let us inform you  about the idea behind community sites.

What are sites and why are they important for Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

Sites are areas where the meal plan is designed. A wide variety of sites include playgrounds, churches, schools, recreation centers, housing projects, summer camps, day camps, community centers, Indian reservations,  migrant centers, or parks are included in ‘sites’.

The agency may ask the sponsor to help in maintaining a particular site. However, if some organizations can’t be a sponsor, they still have a chance to participate as a site supervisor.

If your organization isn’t approved for sponsorship, you can always become a site supervisor,  and participate in this good cause.

As a site supervisor, you will attend your sponsor’s training session. Moreover, you will be responsible to take care of activities happening at your designated site. Apart from that, you will manage volunteers, in charge of the distribution of meals as per the SFSP guidelines, keep a record of served meals, ensure food storage is ample, ensure the cleanliness of the site, and help the sponsor to market the program in the community.

How to prepare meals for the summer lunch program?

If you want to become a part of this good cause, we will let you know how to prepare your meal for the Summer Food Service Program as per the guidelines.

As a sponsor, you are free to choose if you want to prepare the meal, purchase the meal via agreement or contract a vendor.

The smooth running of operations depends on if your site has a kitchen or not. If there is a kitchen at your site, you can either prepare the meal yourself, or arrange the food items there. If you opt to prepare your own food, you will receive more reimbursement because of ‘self-prep’ food.

Moreover, if there is no kitchen at your site, but you still want to prepare the food by yourself, then you can get it cooked somewhere else, and then get it transported to your site.

However, even though you want to prepare your meal by yourself, but you lack arrangements for it, you can contract a food supplier and fulfill your responsibility.

Now you know how to start the Summer Lunch Program. We advise you to be a part of it and make the world a better place for the entire human race.

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