In an effort to help keep children well-nourished during the summer recess and ready to learn when they return to school in the fall, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today urged eligible organizations to apply as summer meal sites through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
“Often the only nutritious meal a low-income child receives is at school, but that all comes to a halt during the summer recess,” said Torlakson. “I urge eligible organizations to sign up to provide nutritious meals to these kids through the summer, so their growing minds and bodies won’t be hampered by a lack of proper nutrition.”
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Research shows children who fail to engage in high-quality summer learning, have unproductive summers, are not physically active, and don’t receive the proper nutrition, all contribute to a phenomenon called summer learning loss. Also, when these children, particularly low-income children, come back to school, they fall even further behind their peers that contribute to a persistent achievement gap. This is part of the reason why Torlakson started his Team California for Healthy Kids initiative, designed to keep children active and properly nourished throughout each day, in and out of school.
SFSP serves meals to children in geographic areas where at least 50 percent of students are eligible to receive free or reduced-price school meals. The program works by reimbursing agencies that serve nutritious meals to children 18 years and younger during school vacation. SFSP operates when schools in a community are on vacation for at least 15 continuous school days or when year-round schools are off-track. Non-school sponsors may also now serve snacks to children after school under the program. The program benefits all children in accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, and is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.
Eligible sponsors may include schools, camps, Indian tribal governments, private nonprofit agencies, and municipal, state, county, or local government offices. Sponsors may prepare meals or obtain meals from another SFSP sponsor, public or commercial food vendor, or a school food service department. All meals must meet the USDA minimum meal patterns.
Agencies interested in becoming SFSP sponsors must obtain training by California Department of Education staff before their applications can be approved. These training sessions are usually available from mid-March through early May.
All commercial food service vendors are also invited to participate in the training sessions. The training will benefit food service vendors by providing information for meeting SFSP meal pattern and contract requirements. Commercial food service vendors must register with the California Department of Education before entering into a vending contract with an SFSP sponsor.
To receive training information, learn how to access the online application, or learn how to become a SFSP Sponsor or SFSP food vendor, visit the California Department of Education Web site at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/sf/sfspinfo.asp.
To find a summer meal site or locate summer sponsors, go to the interactive map of California Summer Feeding sites at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/sh/sn/summersites.asp.
Agencies interested in becoming summer food sponsors may contact Melissa Garza at 800-952-5609, 916-322-5885, or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Dennis Arena at 800-952-5609, 916-324-9073, or email@example.com.
For information and tools for running a successful summer program, visit the California Summer Meal Program Coalition Web site at http://ccrwf.org/summer-meal-coalition/.
For more information about the Team California for Healthy Kids campaign, please visit the California Department of Education Web site at http://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/tchk.asp.