During the school year, many children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. What happens when school lets out? Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process. Lack of nutrition during the summer months may set up a cycle for poor performance once school begins again. Hunger also may make children more prone to illness and other health issues. The Summer Food Service Program is designed to fill that nutrition gap and make sure children can get the nutritious meals they need.  With children as our focus and the need to help support our communities, the Church of God in Christ Children’s Ministry and the Urban Initiatives are working together to help our local churches benifit from this nationaly funded program.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federal program designed to provide free, nutritious meals to children eighteen and under in low-income neighborhoods during the months when school is not in session. Even though the SFSP started in 1968 as a pilot program, it became a separate, permanent program in 1975.
At the federal level, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the SFSP and the  State Education Department (SED) administers SFSP at the state level.  Local, public and private schools, non-profit agencies, state or local governments and camps may sponsor the SFSP and serve meals at particular neighborhood sites. 
Summer meals provided at certain open sites are free to children age eighteen and under. For these open sites located in low-income areas, families do not have to fill out any forms and any child may eat the meal.  Enrolled sites and camp/sports programs may utilize the SFSP to feed children, but require paperwork documentation and are often limited to certain participating children.  
Benefits/Meal Components: 
Sponsors may choose to serve breakfast, lunch, supper, snack, or a certain combination of meals throughout the summer. While the nutritional quality of the meals is guided by the USDA, individual sponsors may use discretion of which foods to serve as part of the meal.
The SFSP is a federal entitlement program. The federal government provides funding for approved sponsors to operate a SFSP. SED administers reimbursement per meal. For the last several years many states have also provided to sponsors supplemental funding.

Once your church is approved as a sponsor or a sponsored site, you will be able to serve breakfast, lunch and snacks to the young people in your community depending on the availability in your state.  This opportunity allows your church to fill some of the natural needs of your community but can also open the door allowing you to reach and fill spiritual needs also.  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise.

Become a Sponsor

Being a sponsor requires the highest level of commitment. Sponsoring means acting as the organizer for the Summer Food Service Program sites. Public or private non-profit schools, local, municipal, county, tribal or state government, private non-profits, public or private non-profit camps, and private or non-profit universities or colleges are examples of local organizations that often serve as Summer Food Service Program sponsors. Sponsors must be able to provide a capable staff, managerial skills, and food service capabilities. A sponsor may provide its own meals, purchase meals through an agreement with an area school, or contract for meals with a food vendor.
Open a Feeding Site
The Summer Food Service Program reaches only a fraction of the children in need. The primary reason for the limited access to the program is that there are not enough feeding sites. Your community building or place of faith could become a feeding site. Sites are the physical locations were food is served. Each site location must work with a Summer Food Service Program sponsor that is financially and administratively responsible for the meal service at the site. You can also help by coordinating site participation with other youth activity programs in your area.

How to Apply

To apply, contact the SFSP agency in your State.  Each State has its own application and training process.  Click here for a list of State contact information.  Elder David Perry our National Children’s Ministry Director has participated in the program in many states, if you need additional information you can contact him if you Click Here.