State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today urged eligible organizations to offer nutritious meals to students while schools are closed for the summer. Participating agencies may apply for reimbursements from the Summer Food Service Program.
“In these tough economic times, sometimes the only nutritious meal a child gets is through the National School Lunch Program. This program strives to help children achieve by providing them nourishing meals during the summer, which helps students when they come back to school in the fall,” said Torlakson.
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 program benefits all children in accordance with federal law and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy and is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.
The program may operate when schools in the community are on vacation for at least 15 continuous school days, or when year-round schools are off-track. In addition, non-school sponsors may now serve snacks to children after-school under the program.
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.
Agencies interested in becoming SFSP sponsors must obtain training by California Department of Education staff before their applications can be approved. These trainings sessions are usually available from mid-March through early May.
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 the SFSP meal pattern and contract requirements. Commercial food service vendors must register with the California Department of Education before entering into a vending contract with an SFSP sponsor.
In 2008, Congress simplified the SFSP's paperwork and changed the reimbursement method to a single rate to pay for allowable program costs. Agencies may obtain the simplified procedures and the 2011 reimbursement rates at http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Summer/Managing.htm 
The SFSP Application and claiming meals for reimbursement are now online, making it easier for sponsors to submit their application, make changes, and receive reimbursement sooner. The application due date is 45 days before the meal service proposed start day, but no later than June 15, 2011.
To receive training information, learn how to access the online application, or learn how to become a food vendor for SFSP sponsors, please access the Summer Food Service Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/sf/index.asp .
Interested agencies may also contact Melissa Garza by phone at 800-952-5609 or 916-322-5885, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org ; or Dennis Arena by phone at 800-952-5609 or 916-324-9073, or by e-mail at email@example.com .