Nearly half of state’s children qualify for free/reduced-price meals
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is looking for sponsors willing to provide nutritious meals to Kansas children during the summer months.
A program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), SFSP provides reimbursement to schools, public agencies and private nonprofit organizations for food services.
Meals can be served free to children in areas with school or census eligibility based on free and reduced-price meal eligibility. Free meals enhance summer education or recreation programs. If your community already has a sponsor, find out how you or your organization can assist by providing additional sites, volunteers or activities.
During the school year, nearly half of the children in Kansas qualify for reduced-price or free meals. Children and families rely on this economical nutrition source.
The goal of the SFSP is to ensure children in needy areas continue to receive nutritious meals during long school vacations when the low-cost or free school meals provided through the Child Nutrition Programs of the USDA are no longer available. SFSP sponsors receive reimbursements for documenting and serving healthy meals to children between the ages of 1 and 18 years of age at approved sites in needy areas. These nutritional opportunities help keep children ready to learn when school resumes. Proper nutrition is a critical component of reaching the Kansas State Board of Education’s vision for education — Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.
The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) administers the SFSP in Kansas. More than 350,000 lunches are served to children each day in Kansas during the school year, while only 28,000 children statewide receive the free meals provided each day by SFSP sponsors during the summer months, according to KSDE. This means more sponsors across the state are needed. Kansas SFSP sponsors served a record 1.42 million meals during the summer of 2018, but still fell short of meeting the needs of Kansas children.
SFSP meals can complement supervised activities that are safe, fun and filled with learning opportunities. Children benefit nutritionally by receiving complete, wholesome meals and parents benefit from help in stretching their food dollars. Children who continue to receive healthy meals through the summer feel better, behave better and go back to school ready to learn.
The SFSP encourages communities to provide secure places for children to go to be with other children and caring adults. As a result, parents will know their children are receiving healthy meals in a supportive environment.
Can SFSP assist in your community? Organizations interested in serving nutritious meals to children through a summer program can call Kelly Chanay, assistant director of Child Nutrition and Wellness for KSDE, at (785) 296-2276. For more information, visit www.kn-eat.org and select the Summer Food Service Program.
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