(TRENTON) – More than 600,000 children in New Jersey receive free or reduced price meals in their schools under the National School Lunch Program. 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.
Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus today encouraged organizations to help provide meals to children in needy areas during the summer months when they lack access to school breakfast and lunch programs that operate during the school year.
“Good nutrition for our children is an issue year-round, not just during the time schools are in session,” said Secretary Kuperus. “We are asking eligible sponsoring organizations to help fill this critical gap by offering these meals in needy areas in our state.”
In 2005, only 25 percent of the 600,000 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 needy children during school hours. It is designed to reach those who are age 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas.
It is also 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.
For more information or to obtain an application, call (609) 292-4498. The deadline for submission of completed applications is June 15, 2006.