Facts about SFSP – Summer Food Service Program – USDA and Dept of Ed

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) ensures that children continue to
receive nutritious meals during the summer, when they do not have access to
school lunch or breakfast. The Summer Food Service Program began in 1968 and
provides nutritious food that’s “in” when school is “out.”
The Summer Food Service Program is administered by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS). The Colorado Department
of Education (CDE) Office of School Nutrition (OSN) approves sponsor
applications, conducts training, monitors program operations and processes
program payments.
Sponsors must be organizations that are fully capable of managing a food service
program. Sponsors must follow regulations and be responsible, financially and
administratively, for running the program. Sponsors of sites must:
 not be seriously deficient
 serve low income children
 conduct a nonprofit food service
 exercise management control over sites
All children 18 years of age and under who go to an approved site may receive
free meals.
A person 19 years of age and over who has a mental or physical disability (as
determined by a state or local educational agency) and participates during the
school year in a public or private non-profit school program may also receive free
A site is the physical location, approved by the Office of School Nutrition, where SFSP meal(s) are served during a
supervised time period. The three types of sites are:
What types of organizations
are eligible to sponsor the
 Public or private non-profit
 Units of local, municipal,
county, state or federal
 Private non-profit
 Public or private non-profit
residential camps
 Public or private non-profit
universities or colleges
participating in the National
Youth Sports Program
 Community and faith based

December 2016
Sponsors may choose from several methods of providing meals, including to:
 prepare and assemble their own meals
 obtain meals from a school food authority
 obtain meals from a vendor
Open or closed enrolled sites can serve up to two meals; lunch and either breakfast or snack, every day. Camps may
serve up to three meals per day (any combination of breakfast, lunch, supper or snack).
Sponsor reimbursements are based on the number of reimbursable meals served, multiplied by the federal rate of
reimbursement, which is determined annually.
At open or closed enrolled sites, reimbursement may be claimed for all meals served that meet SFSP guidelines.
Sponsors offering the program at camp sites may claim reimbursement only for the program meals served to enrolled
children who meet the program’s income eligibility standards.
All sponsors must complete the Office of School Nutrtion annual training. All new sponsors must attend the in-person
training and returning sponsors, in good standing, have the option to complete the online training. Once sponsor
training is complete, the organization applies via an online application.
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
OPEN At least 50 percent of children in the area are eligible
for free or reduced price school meals (area eligible).
 School data
 Census data
At least 50 percent of the children enrolled in the
program are eligible for free or reduced price school
meals or the site is area eligible.
 School data
 Census data
 Income eligibility forms
CAMP A residential or non-residential day camp program
which offers a regularly scheduled food service as part
of an organized program for enrolled children.
 Income eligibility forms
 List of income eligible children provided by
the school district
 To learn more about the Summer Food Service Program visit: www.cde.state.co.us/nutrition/nutrisummer
 To view all CDE fact sheets, visit: www.cde.state.co.us/Communications/factsheetsandfaqs

National School Lunch act of 1946


President Harry Truman signed into law the National School Lunch Act in 1946, in part as a way to provide meals to low-income students.

In 1966, as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” the federal government began funneling extra money into school districts with high concentrations of poverty, as a way to blunt its effects.

Along the way, the federal government began using this nutrition program as a stand-in for gauging how many poor or low-income students a school has. Researchers and state education departments soon began using this “F&R” data, too, says Baker.

Of course, the U.S. Census Bureau measures actual poverty. But it’s difficult for researchers to use that data because census tracts don’t align with school-district boundaries or attendance zones for individual schools.The baggage we carry.

A ‘Blunt Tool’  

Factoring poverty into education policy, no matter how it’s done, is important. Baker says it’s a strong predictor of how well children will do in school. But poverty isn’t the only relevant measure. Among other key factors: education levels of parents, their occupation, and immigration status.

But absent reliable, easily obtained data on these alternatives, F&R in eduspeak serves as the de facto measure of the degree to which students are at risk  and the basis for making important decisions.

For instance, states that use accountability formulas to evaluate teachers, and sometimes to give bonuses to them, often factor into those calculations the proportion of F&R students they have.

Baker believes lunch-program data is a “blunt tool,” but also that it does work on a large scale to understand a district or a school’s needs.

Others are seeking a better tool.

Matthew Cohen works at the Ohio Department of Education and heads a working group looking to find alternatives. He says F&R data isn’t bad at an aggregate level, but that it has some shortcomings.

First, he says, not all those who meet the poverty guidelines actually apply for the lunch program. Others who don’t qualify game the system.

“When we scratch the surface, there might be trivial distortions [to the data] or there may be very important distortions,” says Cohen. He hopes to release findings on potential alternatives to F&R this summer.

Here’s another complication: A recent federal program allows a school to provide free lunch to all of its students even if they don’t qualify. It’s called the Community Eligibility Provision, and its designed to help districts reduce paperwork.

It allows schools where at least 40 percent of families qualify for food stamps or other assistance to also provide free and reduced-priced lunch for all students. For researchers, that means a school that would normally count as 70 percent F&R, now shows up as 100 percent.

If Not F&R, Then What?

Cohen won’t say yet what alternatives he may offer, but getting finer-grained data isn’t easy. Parents, he notes, may not want to offer additional information. And even if they’re willing, school districts would need new systems for collecting and maintaining data.

Baker has one suggestion that could improve how schools use existing F&R numbers. He separates student groups into two categories: those that receive free lunch, and those that receive reduced-price lunch.

The difference? As noted above, the threshold for a lower-priced lunch is 185 percent of the poverty level, while for a free lunch, it’s 130 percent.

When Baker accounts for these differences, he can see that students “on the higher end of low-income” perform better than those at the lower end. Accordingly, he says it could be possible to target more specific resources to schools the more we knew about a school’s at-risk population.

In the meantime, he says, people should recognize that free and reduced-price lunch is a helpful, but limited, metric. “It ain’t great, but it’s what we’ve got, and it is predictive of what we want to know about student outcomes.”


What is Free and Reduced Lunch Program in Public Schools

The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.Jun 13, 2017


A student from a household with an income at or below 130 percent of the poverty income threshold is eligible for free lunch. A student from a household with an income between 130 percent and up to 185 percent of the poverty threshold is eligible for reduced price lunch.Apr 16, 2015

In return, they must serve lunches that meet Federal requirements, and they must offer free or reduced price lunches to eligible children. School food authorities can also be reimbursed for snacks served to children through age 18 in after school educational or enrichment programs.

1. What is the National School Lunch Program?
The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in over
100,000 public and non‐profit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provided
nutritionally balanced, low‐cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day
in 2012. In 1998, Congress expanded the National School Lunch Program to include
reimbursement for snacks served to children in afterschool educational and enrichment programs
to include children through 18 years of age.
The Food and Nutrition Service administers the program at the Federal level. At the State level,
the National School Lunch Program is usually administered by State education agencies, which
operate the program through agreements with school food authorities.
2. How does the National School Lunch Program work?
Generally, public or nonprofit private schools of high school grade or under and public or
nonprofit private residential child care institutions may participate in the school lunch program.
School districts and independent schools that choose to take part in the lunch program get cash
subsidies and USDA foods from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for each meal they
serve. In return, they must serve lunches that meet Federal requirements, and they must offer free
or reduced price lunches to eligible children. School food authorities can also be reimbursed for
snacks served to children through age 18 in afterschool educational or enrichment programs.
3. What are the nutritional requirements for school lunches?
School lunchs must meet meal pattern and nutrition standards based on the latest Dietary
Guidelines for Americans. The current meal pattern increases the availability of fruits,
vegetables, and whole grains in the school menu. The meal pattern’s dietary specifications set
specific calorie limits to ensure age-appropriate meals for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Other meal
enhancements include gradual reductions in the sodium content of the meals (sodium targets
must be reached by SY 2014-15, SY 2017-18 and SY 2022-23). While school lunches must meet
Federal meal requirements, decisions about what specific foods to serve and how they are
prepared are made by local school food authorities.
4. How do children qualify for free and reduced price meals?
Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal through the National School Lunch
Program. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are
eligible for free meals. Those with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty
level are eligible for reduced‐price meals, for which students can be charged no more than 40
cents. (For the period July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, 130 percent of the poverty level is
$30,615 for a family of four; 185 percent is $43,568 .)
Children from families with incomes over 185 percent of poverty pay a full price, though their
meals are still subsidized to some extent. Local school food authorities set their own prices for
full‐price (paid) meals, but must operate their meal services as non‐profit programs.
Afterschool snacks are provided to children on the same income eligibility basis as school meals.
However, programs that operate in areas where at least 50 percent of students are eligible for free
or reduced‐price meals may serve all their snacks for free.
5. How much reimbursement do schools get?
Most of the support USDA provides to schools in the National School Lunch Program comes in
the form of a cash reimbursement for each meal served. The current (July 1, 2014 through June
30, 2015) basic cash reimbursement rates if school food authorities served less than 60% free and
reduced price lunches during the second preceding school year are:
Free lunches: Reduced-price lunches: Paid lunches:
$2.93 $2.53 $0.28
Free snacks: Reduced-price snacks: Paid snacks:
$0.80 $0.40 $0.07
School food authorities that are certified to be in compliance with the updated meal requirements
will receive an additional six cents of federal cash reimbursement for each meal served. This
bonus will be adjusted for inflation in subsequent years. These above rates exclude the additional
six cents. Higher reimbursement rates are also in effect for Alaska and Hawaii, and for schools
with high percentages of low‐income students.
For the latest reimbursement rates visit FNS website at