The SFSP was established to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Free meals that meet federal nutrition guidelines are provided to all children at approved SFSP sites in areas with significant concentrations of low-income children.
The SFSP operates during school vacations, primarily in the summer months – from May through September. It may also provide meals during vacation breaks in schools that are operated on a year-round basis or a continuous school calendar, or during emergency school closures from October through April.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers the SFSP at the national and regional levels. Within each state, the program is administered by the state department of education or an alternate state-designated agency. Locally, public or private non-profit organizations that want to “sponsor” the program apply and are approved by the state agency to operate. These sponsoring organizations sign program agreements with their respective state agencies and are responsible for overseeing operations. Sponsors receive federal reimbursement from the state agency to cover the administrative and operating costs of preparing and serving meals to eligible children at one or more meal sites.