The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was created to provide nutrition benefits during the summer to children living in low-income areas. These children were thought to be at risk of hunger or nutritional deficiencies when they were not receiving free or reduced price meals in school. This has been further supported by research demonstrating that food insecurity among children increases during the summer months.
Though the SFSP aims to fill the nutrition gap that low-income children experience over the summer, the Program has been unable to achieve the same level of program participation as school meal programs achieve during the school year. While 19.4 million children receive free or reduced price meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), only about 3.2 million children receive meals during the summer. Because of this discrepancy, the purpose of the Summer Food for Children demonstrations is to develop and test new and innovative methods of improving food access during summer months. This includes enhancements to the existing SFSP, as well as demonstrations utilizing household-based models for providing nutrition assistance.
In Summer 2010, an Extended Length of Operation demonstration project providing SFSP sponsors with an extra $0.50 per lunch reimbursement for operating 40 or more days, and an Activity Incentive demonstration project providing SFSP sponsors with funds to implement educational and recreational activities at sites were implemented in two States. In Summer 2011, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will also conduct Household-Based Alternative Demonstrations to provide summer food benefits using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and WIC electronic benefit transfer (EBT) technology as the delivery mechanism, to give low-income families with children more resources to use at food stores during the summer.
The Summer 2011 Home Delivery and Food Backpacks demonstration projects under this Request for Applications will continue examining enhancements to the SFSP that are intended to increase program participation and childhood food security during the summer months.