Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Summer Food Service Program Fact Sheet

Program Information

What is the Summer Food Service Program?

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally funded program that reimburses agencies for providing nutritious meals to children 18 years or age and younger. The program operates during periods when school is not in session for 15 continuous school days.

Who can be a SFSP sponsor?

Entities eligible to be a SFSP sponsor include public and private schools, Indian tribal governments; units of local, municipal, or county governments; and other public or private nonprofit agencies.

Are there any restrictions?

Organizations are limited to operating 200 sites and may not serve more than 50,000 children total.

How will the SFSP benefit the children?

In California, needy children are eligible to receive at least one nutritious meal daily while attending school. When school is out, children often miss this nutritious meal. A well-balanced diet is important to a child’s growth and development. Children who do not receive proper nutrition do not concentrate or perform well when they are in school. Providing children with a nutritious meal when school is not in session helps them return to school ready to learn and succeed.

Back to Top

How does the SFSP affect participation in other activities?

Meals from the SFSP are an excellent incentive for bringing children to ongoing programs. The SFSP is often used in conjunction with job training programs for teenagers and young adults. The SFSP also provides employment for food service workers who usually do not work during the summer months.

What foods can be served?

Meals must follow a specified meal plan that includes milk, fruits, vegetables or juice; grain products (cereal, muffins, etc.); and meat or meat alternate (ground turkey, eggs, cheese, bean, etc.). The quantity of each item depends on the meal being served: breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack. The SFSP allows most sponsors to serve two meals or a meal and a snack each day. Residential camps and migrant sites may claim three meals each day.

How are sponsors reimbursed?

A sponsor submits monthly claims in order to receive reimbursement. The SFSP reimburses sponsors by the number of eligible meals served multiplied by the current rate regardless of the sponsor's administrative and/or operating expenses. Visit our Child Nutrition Program Rates, Eligibility Scales, and Funding Web page for current reimbursement rates.

What type of sites may be approved to operate?

There are three main types of sites: Open, Closed-enrolled, and Camps.

"Open" sites may be established where poor economic conditions exist. To determine a site’s eligibility, 50 percent of the children enrolled in the school's attendance areas must qualify for free and reduced price meals. Census tract information must show that 50 percent of the children living in the area are low-income. Children are not required to enroll or sign in to receive a meal.

"Closed-enrolled" sites serve identified groups of children that:

  1. Live in a pocket of poverty;

  2. Live in other areas and are transported to a location where less than 50 percent of the children are eligible for free or reduced price meals/low-income; or

  3. Participate in a program that provides recreational, cultural, religious, or other types of organized activities.

If 50 percent or more of the children enrolled are determined as low-income, then the sponsor can be reimbursed for all meals served.

"Camp" (residential or nonresidential) sites receive reimbursed for meals served to children who are determined to be low-income only.

How to obtain additional information or obtain an SFSP application for participation?

If you wish to become a SFSP sponsor and access the online application, obtain training information, or learn how to become a food service vendor for SFSP sponsors, contact one of the following staff:

Sponsors may also call one of the above specialists toll free at 800-952-5609.

Food Service Vendor Contact

When is the SFSP application due?

Applications are due 45 days before beginning meal service and no later than June 1. Applications submitted after June 1 will not be processed.

Want more information on how the SFSP works?

Please visit the USDA Summer Food Service Program External link opens in new window or tab. Web page.

Back to Top

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Share this Page

Recently Posted in Nutrition

  • Procurement Codes of Conduct (added 04-Nov-2015)
    Management Bulletin CNP-01-2015, USDA Policy Memo SP 09-2015,CACFP 03-2015, SFSP 02-2015: Written codes of conduct and performance of employees engaged in the procurement, award, and administration of contracts.
  • California's Farm to Preschool Program (added 22-Oct-2015)
    The California Department of Education (CDE) connects Farm to Preschools (F2P) and manages the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) F2P take ACTION Challenge.
  • Farm to Preschool, take ACTION Challenge! Q and A (added 22-Oct-2015)
    Questions and answers related to the California Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Farm to Preschool (F2P) take ACTION Challenge.
  • Smoothies in the Child Nutrition Programs-Revised (added 12-Oct-2015)
    Management Bulletin CNP-11-2015, USDA Policy Memos SP 10-2014 (v.3), CACFP 05-2014 (v.3), and SFSP 10-2014 (v.3): Smoothies in the Child Nutrition Programs-revised.