Begun 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 are mentally or physically handicapped and who participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for the disabled.
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.
Applicants might 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.
Organizations approved to sponsor the Summer Food Service Program are responsible for managing the feeding sites that provide the meals to youngsters.
Most participating organizations may be reimbursed for up to two meals a day – lunch and either breakfast or a snack. 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 they are reimbursed only for meals served to children eligible for free or reduced‑price meals under the National School Lunch Program.
More than 430,512 children in New Jersey receive free or reduced price meals in their schools under the National School Lunch Program. In 2015, only 19 percent of the children in the state participating in the National School Lunch Program had access to nutritious meals in the summer. One-hundred eight organizations in 2015 participated in the Summer Food Service Program to provide nutritious meals to children during the summer.
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 also administers The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which distributes federally-donated commodities to six emergency feeding organizations statewide to distribute federally-donated foods to hundreds of 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. The deadline for submission of completed applications is June 15, 2016.