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Summer Food Service Program Information

Administrative and operational information and guidance for public and private non-profit organizations that participate in the program.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally-funded program that reimburses sponsors for administrative and operational costs for providing meals to children 18 years of age and younger during periods when they are out of school for fifteen (15) or more consecutive school days.

How to Contact Us

For more program information, please contact the SFSP staff of the California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division by phone at 800-952-5609, or the SFSP Office Technician at 916-322-8323. You can also contact the SFSP Team by e-mail at

Summer Meal Locations

Summer Meal Service Sites and Sponsors
A list of locations where children may receive free nutritious meals during school vacation and off-track periods.

SFSP Operations and Administration

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  1. What Does a Sponsor Do?

    Sponsors are organizations that manage SFSP meal sites. As a sponsor you will:

    • Complete mandatory training
    • Locate and recruit eligible sites
    • Hire, train, and supervise staff and volunteers
    • Arrange for meals to be prepared or delivered
    • Monitor your sites
    • Prepare claims for reimbursement

    Sponsors must also ensure their sponsorship and sites are sustainable through community partnerships, fundraising and volunteer recruitment

  2. Who Can Be an SFSP Sponsor?

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

  3. What Are Site Types?

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

    • Open sites operate in low-income areas where at least 50 percent of children residing in the area are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals, based on local school or census data. The meals are served free to any child at the site on a first-come, first-serve basis.

    • Closed-enrolled sites are established for a specific group of children who enroll in an organized activity program or who do not reside in an eligible low-income area. The site becomes eligible for SFSP if at least half of the enrolled children qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Because the site is not open to the community, meals are served free only to enrolled children.

    • Camps are sites that offer regularly scheduled food service along with organized activities for enrolled residential or day campers. The camp receives reimbursement only for meals served to enrolled children who qualify for free and reduced-price meals.

  4. How Can I Apply?
    • Contact the SFSP Summer Team by phone at 916-322-8323 or by e-mail at
    • We will complete a prescreening questionnaire with you over the phone, and e-mail you an Introduction Packet.
    • The Introduction Packet will include mandatory training information, essential documents, and a list of items you will need to submit.
    • When your application is complete a specialist will schedule a preapproval visit to your agency.
    • This mandatory visit includes an overview of the SFSP program and tests the sponsor’s ability to operate efficiently before the application can be approved.

  5. What is the Application Due Date?
    • Applications are due 45 days before beginning meal service and no later than June 1
    • Applications submitted after June 1 will not be processed

  6. 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 reimbursement rate regardless of the sponsor's administrative and/or operating expenses.

    California Department of Education (CDE) Current Reimbursement Rates
    Scroll page to find SFSP annual reimbursement rates.

    Claim Submission Deadlines and Claims Technical Assistance
    SFSP Claim Deadlines.

  7. Is Sponsor Training Available?

    Mandatory online training is required annually for all Summer Food Service Program sponsors.
    All sponsors are required to complete the California Professional Nutrition Education and Training Center (Cal-Pro-NET) online training.

    Cal-Pro-NET Training Opportunities Web page External link opens in new window or tab.
    The SFSP Cal-Pro-NET sponsor training is updated every year.

    Mandatory training topics include, but are not limited to:

    • Purpose of the program
    • Site types and determining eligibility
    • Vended meal contracts
    • Menu records for the self-preparation sponsor
    • How reimbursement works
    • Administrative review
    • Nondiscrimination compliance
  8. Where Can I Find Additional Supplemental Training and Information Materials?
    Additional recent training and informational materials can be found at the following Web page links:

    Serving High Quality Meals in the Summer Meal Programs Webinar External link opens in new window or tab.
    This U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Webinar provides tips for sponsors on how to serve nutritious and high quality meals that children will enjoy. The Webinar also includes best practices, strategies for working with vendors, information on how to procure local foods, and Team Nutrition resources.

  9. Where Can I Find Guidance, Manuals, and Resources for the SFSP?
    The most recent USDA administrative manuals, management bulletins, and other materials needed for proper administration of the SFSP can be found in the following Web pages:

    Administrative Manuals External link opens in new window or tab.
    USDA program guides for SFSP sponsors.

    USDA Policy Memos External link opens in new window or tab.
    SFSP policy and program regulations.

    Management Bulletins
    CDE notifications clarifying USDA policy memos.

    Food Buying Guide External link opens in new window or tab.
    Essential food procurement and meal pattern details.

    SFSP Forms
    Essential forms and documents for SFSP sponsors.

    Innovative Strategies to Operate the SFSP External link opens in new window or tab.
    Innovative USDA suggestions to successfully promote and operate the SFSP.

    United Way Sacramento Summer Lunchbox
    External link opens in new window or tab.
    A combination of resources to help sponsors and community partners make summer meals the best they can be.

    Food & Research Action Council Month by Month Operations Suggestions External link opens in new window or tab.
    An outstanding monthly listing of tasks and items to complete for the entire year. This tool will keep your summer meal program on track all year long!

    USDA SFSP Best Practices External link opens in new window or tab.
    From Kick-off Events to Utilizing Data, an essential compilation of information for all SFSP program operators.

    Offering Healthy Summer Meals That Kids Enjoy
    External link opens in new window or tab.
    USDA tips and resources on how to liven up summer meals for children's appetites. Summer program operators please note this package can be ordered for free from the Web page link.

  10. How Can I Help Feed More Children in the Community?
    Below are links to information on how to encourage sponsor and site participation, reach out to underserved areas, promote the Summer Meal Programs to families, and partner with other Summer Meal Sponsors.

    USDA Summer Meals Outreach Toolkit Web page External link opens in new window or tab.
    Essential suggestions on how to promote community and family participation in the Summer Meal Programs.

    Power Up For Summer Fun! External link opens in new window or tab.
    A USDA listing of key SFSP resources for new and existing sponsors can be found on the USDA SFSP Web page under Spotlights.

    Summer Meal Coalition Web page External link opens in new window or tab.
    California Summer Meal Coalition Partnership Information.

    Food, Research & Action Center (FRAC) Events Calendar Web page External link opens in new window or tab.
    Helpful SFSP related Webinar and Conference Call opportunities.

    SFSP Tri-fold Brochure (DOC; Dated Nov-2015)
    Brochure to promote the SFSP in California.

    Summer Meals Family Flyer (DOC; Dated Nov-2015)
    A half page flyer to promote Summer Meal sites to families and caregivers.
    Available Translations of the Summer Meals Family Flyer

    SFSP Fact Sheet (DOC; Dated May-2016)
    A one page handout of basic SFSP essentials.

  11. Where Can I Find Nutrition Information for the SFSP?
    USDA SFSP Meal Patterns External link opens in new window or tab.
    Details for the SFSP breakfast, lunch, supper, and snack meal requirements.

    USDA Food and Nutrition Service Web site External link opens in new window or tab.
    USDA Team Nutrition Web page.

    Feeding Infants: A Guide for Use in the Child Nutrition Programs External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF; 2MB)
    Infant nutrition information for use in Child Nutrition Programs.

    Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs
    Clarification on the process, requirements, options, and resources for accommodating children, with and without disabilities, who have special dietary needs.

    Medical Statement to Request Special Meals and/or Accommodations (DOC)
    Available Translations of the Medical Statement to Request Special Meals and/or Accommodations
    Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese translations of the Medical Statement.

  12. How Can I Receive Regular Announcements from the SFSP?
    Summer Food Service Program Information by e-mail.
    Sign up for our e-mail list to receive regular announcements.
Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609 or 916-322-8323
Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 6, 2016
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