January 30, 2013
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Urges Agencies to
Apply to Become Summer Food Service Program Sponsors
SACRAMENTO—In order to keep children well-nourished during the summer recess and ready to learn when they go back to school in the fall, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today urged eligible organizations to apply now to become meal sites this summer through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
"During summer recess, low-income children often miss out on the daily nutritious meals and the intellectual stimulation they get at school, and then they end up lagging behind their peers when school starts again," said Torlakson. "That's why it's important for places where kids hang out, like camps and community centers, to sign up to become summer meal sites to provide good food and fun activities for families in need."
Research shows children who fail to engage in high-quality summer learning are less likely to be physically active or receive proper nutrition. These factors contribute to a phenomenon called summer learning loss. When these children come back to school, they are often behind their peers, contributing to a persistent achievement gap. This is part of the reason Torlakson participates in the Summer Matters [http://summermatters2you.net/home] campaign and Team California for Healthy Kids, an initiative he launched to help keep children active and properly nourished.
The SFSP serves meals to children in geographic areas where at least 50 percent of students are eligible to receive free or reduced-price school meals. The Program works by reimbursing agencies that serve nutritious meals to children 18 years and younger during school vacation. The SFSP operates when schools in a community are on vacation for at least 15 continuous school days or when year-round schools are off track. The program benefits all children in accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, and is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.
Eligible sponsors may include schools, camps, Indian tribal governments, private nonprofit agencies, and municipal, state, county, or local government offices. Sponsors may prepare meals or obtain meals from another SFSP sponsor, public or commercial food vendor, or a school food service department. All meals must meet the USDA minimum meal patterns. Eligible sponsors also often provide summer activities for children.
Agencies interested in becoming SFSP sponsors must obtain training by California Department of Education (CDE) staff before their applications can be approved. Applications are due 45 days before beginning meal service and no later than June 15. These training sessions are usually available from late February through April. All commercial food service vendors are also invited to participate in the training sessions. The training will benefit food service vendors by providing information for meeting SFSP meal pattern and contract requirements. Agencies interested in becoming summer food sponsors may contact Melissa Garza at 800-952-5609, 916-322-5885, or email@example.com; or Dennis Arena at 800-952-5609, 916-324-9073, or firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive training information, learn how to access the online application, or learn how to become a SFSP Sponsor or SFSP food vendor, visit CDE's Summer Food Service Program Information - Summer Food Service Web page.
For additional information and tools for running a successful summer program, visit the California Summer Meal Coalition [http://www.summermealcoalition.org/] Web site.
The CDE will update its interactive map of Summer Meal Service Sites - Food Programs in early summer to help families locate a summer meal site or summer sponsor close to them.