Summer Food Service Program for Children provides nutritious meals during summer months

Unfortunately, in New Mexico, a lot of kids rely on school lunches as one of their main sources of food. What happens to those kids when school is out for summer? That’s why New Mexico’s CYFD started its Summer Food Service Program for Children. We spoke with Emiliano Perea, State Manager for New Mexico’s CYFD, to get more insight into this program, how it works, and who is eligible to take part.

The Summer Food Service Program for Children provides nutritious meals to children during the summer months. When school lets out for the summer, children ages 1 through 18 can receive free, nutritious meals. Meals are available to all children, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. No application or registration is required for children to participate.

The Program

The Summer Food Service Program for Children (SFSP) is administered on the Federal level by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The primary purpose of the SFSP is to provide food service to children from needy areas during periods when area schools are closed for vacation.  This Federally funded program was created by Congress in 1968 after studies had uncovered the direct link between a child’s ability to learn in school and their nutritional intake. USDA provides Federal funds to the State agency who in turn, acts as the pass-through agency and reimburses eligible organizations for the meals that are served to children and youth.

How the Program Works

Eligible organizations (sponsors) that are approved by the State agency to participate either prepare meals on their own, or purchase meals from another entity and serve them at approved meal service locations (meal sites) to children and youth.  Children ages 18 and younger can receive these meals, free of charge, as long as they are physically present at the meal site and in the serving line. Children and youth receive the same meals on a first come, first served basis. There is no discrimination during the course of the meal service. There is no fee, or enrollment requirement to participate. Just show up!

Although it is a requirement for participants to be served meals that have all of the required components (complete meals), children may choose to eat the items they wish. Complete meals or individual food items cannot be consumed or otherwise taken away from the meal site. This is to say that, all meals and food items must be eaten at the site. SFSP meals are not served outside of the approved times of operation. Other rules that apply to the meal site include the requirement that participants not disturb other participants and are also responsible for discarding their trash in the appropriate receptacle.

Some sites serve breakfast and lunch, while others only serve lunch. Go through their website to find a meal site location near you. You may also call the State agency at 1-800-EAT COOL for assistance in finding a meal site location near you.

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