MDE seeks sponsors for 2019 summer food service program

Published 7:56 am Thursday, January 31, 2019

ROSEVILLE — During the school year, many Minnesota families depend on free or reduced-price meals their children get at school to provide nourishment. When school is out for the summer, the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) can provide funding for meals for children in order to bridge the “nutrition gap” during the summer months.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is looking for eligible schools and organizations to sponsor the SFSP and provide free meals to Minnesota children ages 18 and under during the summer when school is out. There are many low-income areas in Minnesota that are underserved and in need of a sponsor to operate a summer feeding site, especially in greater Minnesota.

MDE provides sponsors with SFSP training, on-site technical assistance, and meal reimbursement funding for providing meals to children 18 and under in areas of economic need.

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“We need to tackle inequities head on, and that includes filling the nutrition gap,” said Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker. “The Summer Food Service Program brings together entire communities and volunteers to help our students return to school in the fall ready to learn. I would like to thank everyone involved in the summer foods program for their help, and I want to encourage anyone interested to get involved. Nutrition is essential, so pulling together to ensure our students have what they need helps them reach their success. I hope you’ll join us.”

Program sites are often located at local schools, recreation and community centers, parks, family housing complexes and other locations operated by youth, cultural and faith-based organizations.

Last summer in Minnesota, over 220 schools and organizations operated over 1,000 SFSP meal sites and served over 3.4 million meals to children 18 and under. The summer meals program reaches 19 percent of children from low-income families that normally receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year, up from 18 percent the year before. The program continues to grow, with 16 more sponsors operating in 2018 than the year before and 43 more sites than the previous year. MDE is looking to continue growing the program so all eligible children have access to meals over the summer months.

A sponsoring organization must be a public or private nonprofit school food authority, a public or private nonprofit college or university, a public or private nonprofit residential summer camp, a unit of local, county, municipal, state, or federal government, or any other type of private nonprofit organization. All sponsors must be tax-exempt and demonstrate the administrative and financial ability to effectively manage a food service program.

If you are interested in being a new sponsor or becoming a SFSP site under an existing sponsor, contact MDE’s Food and Nutrition Service at 651-582-8526, 1-800-366-8922 (MN Toll-free), or  More information about the summer food program is available on MDE and USDA Summer Food Service Program websites.