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Summer Food Service Program

Sponsors: Managing the Program

Make an investment in the children in your community! If your organization already provides services to the community and has capable staff and good management practices to run a food service, you can administer SFSP.

As a sponsor, you will:


Each year, the state agency conducts training for the supervisors of all organizations that are interested in serving as SFSP sponsors.

Training will help you decide whether sponsoring SFSP is for you. It provides an opportunity for you to meet other sponsors in your state, ask questions about SFSP, and begin to develop a strategy for launching your program.

Your training covers all necessary areas of running the program for experienced sponsors and for organizations that are new to the program. It also provides important information to help you train your administrative team and the staff and volunteers who will work at your sites.


A site is the physical location, approved by the state agency, where you serve SFSP meals during a supervised time period.

Meal service sites may be located in a variety of settings, including schools, recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, churches, community centers, day camps, residential summer camps, housing projects, and migrant centers, or on Indian reservations.

The most effective sites will be located in areas where you can offer a supervised food service with recreational or enrichment activities. With the support of community organizations, pick out potential areas where you could run a successful food service program for children. Work closely with your state agency to determine if your potential sites are located in eligible areas.


As a sponsor, you will want to reach into your community to attract a winning team of staff and volunteers. You will need capable people who can provide overall coordination, supervise sites, monitor sites, conduct training, conduct community outreach, prepare or deliver meals, and handle program bookkeeping.


A sponsor may prepare meals, purchase meals through an agreement with an area school, or contract for meals with a food service management company (vendor).

If your site has its own kitchen, you may want to prepare meals yourself. If your kitchen is not on the premises, you may still want to prepare your own meals, and then transport them to the site.

Meals that you prepare yourself receive a slightly higher rate of reimbursement. You would receive "self-prep" rates, whether you prepared the meals from scratch or purchase the components and assemble the meals yourself.

Many government and private nonprofit sponsors lack the kitchen facilities to prepare meals themselves. In that case, you may arrange to purchase meals from a school or another public or private food supplier with approved meal preparation facilities.


As of January 1, 2008, the SFSP has "simplified" procedures. It is now easier than ever to participate! The state agency reimburses SFSP sponsors on a per-meal basis for the meals they serve to eligible participants that meet program requirements.

To receive your reimbursement, you must prepare a claim to report the number of meals served each month and submit it to your state agency.

Total reimbursement is limited by per-meal reimbursement rates. Careful planning will help you cover all of your costs. Your costs will depend on many factors, including the number of meals you serve, the price you pay for food or for purchasing meals from a vendor, and the amount of wages you pay your staff.

Operating costs are the costs of running your food service. These are the expenses you have for preparing, obtaining, delivering, and serving meals.

Administrative costs are the costs you have for activities related to planning, organizing and administering your program. These expenses should be included in your approved budget.

Remember, SFSP is a nonprofit food service program for children. A sponsor must be prepared to manage the food service program carefully, and, if necessary, add other resources.

To ensure that you do not spend more than your reimbursement, monitor all costs and keep documentation to show that they are allowable. You are responsible for any costs or expenses that are more than your reimbursement.


A sponsor must visit sites and conduct reviews. Monitoring ensures that sites operate according to program guidelines and that accurate site records are available to justify payment to the sponsor. But most importantly, monitoring ensures that children in the community are getting nutritious meals.