State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urges schools, camps, nonprofits, Indian tribal governments, and government offices to become Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors, so they can provide free meals to underprivileged children.

“Low-income children often don’t have access to nutritious school meals during the summer break, which can cause them to lag behind academically when classes start up again in the fall,” said Torlakson. “We need to sign up as many sponsors as possible to provide free meals, so no child will go hungry this summer.”

Under SFSP, sponsors are reimbursed for the number of meals served that meet federal meal pattern requirements. Sponsors may also use the funds for operating and administrative costs. The meal sites must be located in areas where at least half the students are low income. The meal sites start operating 15 days after school ends for summer break or when year-round schools are off track. Families can go to any meal site and their children will receive free meals—no questions asked and no income verification is needed. Many meal sites may also offer fun activities for children. The California Department of Education (CDE) administers the program in the state for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whic is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

For tips on how to run successful meal sites, visit the California Summer Meal Coalition.

The CDE will update its Summer Meal Service Sites interactive Web map early this summer to help families locate meal sites or sponsors close to their homes.

To apply before the June 1 deadline and to receive training, visit the CDE’s Summer Food Service Program Information-Summer Food Service Web page, call (800) 952-5609, or email sfsp@cde.ca.gov.