Summer Food Service Program Provides Critical Nutritional Needs to Students

| July 6, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. – With summer officially underway, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is reminding families that hundreds of organizations across the state are providing nutritious meals to children in low-income areas through the Department’s Summer Food Service Program.

“The Summer Food Service Program is a critical initiative that ensures students are receiving proper nutrition, even when they are not in school,” Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said. “Children need healthy and nutritious food all year long. This program narrows the hunger gap that a long summer may bring and prepares students to return to school ready to learn.”

Rivera noted that more than 300 organizations participated in the program last summer, providing nutritious meals to children at over 2,600 locations throughout the state. A similar number of sponsors are expected again this summer.

“The Wolf Administration has been on the forefront of the issue of food security and nutrition and this program continues those efforts,” Rivera added. “Good nutrition is a building block for a child’s health and well-being, and limited access to nutritious food during the summer can have an impact on learning all year long and can make students more susceptible to illness and other health issues.”

During his tenure Governor Wolf has established the Food Security Partnership in 2015, comprised of the secretaries of the departments of Aging, Agriculture, Community and Economic Development, Education, Health, and Human Services; unveiled the commonwealth’s food security plan – Setting the Table: A Blueprint for a Hunger-free PA 2016; and introduced the Governor’s School Breakfast Initiative 2017.

To find a meal site for the summer Food Service Program, families and individuals can visit www.education.state.pa.us/sfsp and search by zip code or city.

The Summer Food Service Program, which began in 1976, is a federally-funded child nutrition program designed to reach those who are age 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas. People over 18 who are mentally or physically handicapped and participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for the disabled are also able to receive free meals at the program sites.

Under the program participating organizations are reimbursed for meals served to children who live in areas in which at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.

More than 169 million meals were served to free and reduced price eligible children in Pennsylvania during the 2016-17 school year under the National School Lunch Program. However, only 19 out of every 100 students receiving free and reduced-price meals during the school year accessed nutritious summer meals.


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