New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher is encouraging organizations to help provide nutritious meals to children in low-income areas during the summer months through the Department’s Summer Food Service Program.
The Summer Food Service Program began in 1976 as an outgrowth of the National School Lunch Program. The Summer Food Service Program is designed to reach those who are age 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas. It also is open to people over 18 who have mental or physical disabilities and who participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for those with disabilities.
The federally funded program reimburses participating organizations for meals served to children who live in areas in which at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.
Current USDA waivers allow eligibility for summer meals for all who are age 18 and younger. These waivers are set to expire on June 30, 2021 and it is unknown at this time if the waivers will be extended.
Applicants may include public or private nonprofit school food authorities, units of local, municipal, county or state governments, public or private nonprofit organizations, residential summer camps or national youth sports programs. The deadline for submission of completed applications is March 24, 2021.
Organizations approved to sponsor the Summer Food Service Program are responsible for managing the feeding sites that provide the meals to young children.
Most participating organizations may be reimbursed for up to two meals a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and or snacks. Meals may also be reimbursed for nights and weekends. Those serving primarily migrant children may be reimbursed for up to three meals a day.
Residential camps may serve up to three meals a day but are reimbursed only for meals served to children eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.
More than 647,000 children in New Jersey receive free or reduced-price meals in their schools under the National School Lunch Program. In 2020, there were 151 organizations that participated in the Summer Food Service Program serving nutritious meals at more than 1,083 summer meal sites.
In addition to the Summer Food Program, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Food and Nutrition, administers a number of programs devoted to improving the quality and provision of food to New Jersey residents, in particular those most in need, including School Nutrition Programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
The Division of Food and Nutrition also administers The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which distributes federally donated commodities to six emergency feeding organizations statewide. These federally donated foods are distributed to more than 700 soup kitchens, food pantries and public feeding sites serving the state’s neediest citizens.
For more information on the Summer Food Service Program or to obtain an application, call (609) 292-4498.