Summer Food Service Program keeps kids fed when school’s out
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) helps communities provide free, nutritious meals and snacks to children and teens during the summer months when school is not in session.
Community organizations serve as site hosts, organizing and staffing SFSP meal distribution sites. Site hosts receive reimbursement from the USDA to cover the administrative and operating costs of preparing and serving the meals and snacks provided.
SFSP sites must be located in areas with significant concentrations of low-income children, and can include schools, churches, community centers, parks, libraries, swimming pools, medical clinics, farmers markets and more.
The Iowa Department of Education helps community organizations become site hosts, understand program guidelines, and navigate the Federal reimbursement process. Site host selection for 2016 is underway, and groups are encouraged to contact the Iowa Department of Education promptly to become involved.
Funding is available for all qualifying host sites that register through the Iowa Department of Education. The biggest challenge facing SFSP host sites in Iowa is attracting large numbers of children to participate at the site.
SFSP success stories from the summer of 2015 include:
Boys & Girls Club of Central SW Iowa, Lynn Hansen, Executive Director
We have had a GREAT summer and a GREAT turnout at our SFSP this year. On any given day, we have between 35-60 kids in attendance. These numbers may seem small on a large scale, but to a community of less than 800 total residents, this is quite a turnout. To help spread awareness to some of our community businesses, we sent out invitations to join us for Summer Lunch Bunch. Our cook designated six dates where local businesses can choose to come, along with 5 employees, and have lunch with our kids.
Council Bluffs CSD, Virginia Bechtold, Food Service Director
At the Broadway Skate Park and other sites, we have increased our counts on days that we have partnered with the City Library. They bring books to give away to lunch participants and it has been a big hit this year. Our customers are skaters, neighborhood kids, and families. Not always the same kids every day.
Tri-County CSD, Connie Zimmerman, Food Service Director
One of the activities that helped make our summer meal program successful is that in June when our Jr High Softball and Baseball teams hosted games, I invited the other team to come and eat with us! It was very well received. I received thank you cards from parents for feeding their children.
Also our school hosted several camps and with those being during the time we served lunch we invited all the camp attendees.
Southeast Webster Grand CSD, Karla Flickinger, School Business Official
We held our driver's education classes and our summer reading programs in the same building as our summer meals site to allow those students to participate in both the breakfast and lunch. We bus the students that live out of town in and then they can participate in the summer reading program and summer meals. We really appreciate the opportunity to participate in this program and I feel that the community and kids appreciate it also.
Red Oak CSD, Sharon Foote, Food Service Director
We have 2 summer meal sites in town and serve approximately 75 children at each site. We post menus in our buildings and ask for feedback from our kids about what they want to see served. We host a “Build Your Own Hoagie day” every Friday and have our best participation on those days, with 85 children or more. We serve our Hoagies on a fresh baked steak bun and offer lunch meat, cheese, and a variety of vegetables for fixing’s including onions, tomatoes, lettuce, banana peppers
An estimated 180,000 low-income Iowa children do not have access to summer meal programs. For more information, visit the Iowa Department of Education website or contact Ms. Stephanie Dross at 515-281-4760 or Stephanie.Dross@iowa.gov.
Photo Credit: Glenwood CSD SFSP summer fun day