Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – More than 663,000 children in New Jersey received meals in their schools under the National School Lunch Program last school year. To ensure those students receive nutritious meals during the summer when schools are closed, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture offers the Summer Food Service Program.
Acting Secretary of Agriculture Alfred W. Murray today encouraged organizations to help provide meals to children in low-income areas during the summer months when they lack access to school breakfast and lunch programs that operate during the school year.
"Having access to nutritious meals is important for school children year-round," said Acting Secretary Murray. "When school is in recess for the summer it is important to have a network of agencies that will provide these critical meals in needy areas throughout our state."
In 2008, only 12 percent of the 663,000 children participating in the National School Lunch Program had access to nutritious meals in the summer.
The federally funded Summer Food Service 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 may 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.
The Summer Food Service Program began in 1976 as an outgrowth of the National School Lunch Program, which provides meals to low-income children during school hours. It 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 handicapped.
Organizations approved to sponsor the Summer Food Service Program also 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 also may serve up to three meals a day, but they will be reimbursed only for meals served to children eligible for free or reduced‑price meals under the National School Lunch Program.
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, through 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 through six emergency feeding organizations, which distribute the foods to soup kitchens, food pantries and public feeding sites serving the state's neediest citizens.
In the Fiscal Year 2009 budget, Governor Jon S. Corzine earmarked $4 million to feed the state’s hungry through the purchase of locally-produced nutritious foods. An additional $3 million was allocated in December 2008 due to a large increase in the demand for services.
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, 2009.