Help end summer hunger due to missing school lunch programs

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BR Proud) — During the school year, 611,430 Louisiana children are eligible for free and reduced-price breakfast or lunch. That equates to about 85 percent of all students in prekindergarten through grade 12, according to the state’s Department of Children and Family Services. When school lets out — all of those daily meals go away.

Schools do more than educate our children; they also provide them with healthy, nutritious meals. With school facilities closed for the duration of the school year, students cannot access these meals.

Beth Scioneaux, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education

The Louisiana Department of Education’s Division of Nutrition Support is now accepting applications from eligible agencies and organizations to serve as sponsors and program sites for the 2021 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides healthy meals to children. The program focuses on those from disadvantaged backgrounds, during the summer months when school is not in session.   

Children are more likely to experience summer hunger as families struggle to make up for lost school meals.

Applications are being accepted now through May 15, 2021. For more information on this program, contact the Department’s Division of Nutrition Support at (877) 453-2721 or (225) 342-9661.

What does a sponsor organization do?

Approved sponsors receive financial assistance to help with the cost of obtaining, preparing and serving food under the program, including administrative costs.

Sponsors must be able to provide a capable staff, managerial skills and food service capabilities. A sponsor may provide its own meals, purchase meals through an agreement with an area school or contract for meals with a food vendor.  

Examples of local organizations that often serve as sponsors include: public or private non-profit schools; local, municipal, parish, tribal or state governments; private non-profits; public or private non-profit camps; and private or non-profit universities or colleges.  

To find more information about upcoming training sessions provided by the Louisiana Department of Education, click here. From this link, click on “training” to view (and register for) an upcoming training session.

Training must be completed by potential sponsors prior to application approval. Applicants will be notified once applications have been reviewed by staff.  

The program is also in need of agencies or organizations that are willing to serve as program sites. The sites are the physical locations where food is served. Each site location must work with an approved program sponsor that is financially and administratively responsible for meeting all program requirements for the applicable meal service type(s) at the site.

School children queuing for lunch in the canteen. (FILE)

Who is eligible to receive meals?

Any child aged 18 or younger, or anyone over the age of 18 who is determined by a state or local educational agency or a local public education agency to be mentally or physically disabled and who participates during the school year in a public or private non-profit school program established for the mentally or physically disabled, may receive meals through the SFSP.

The program is held in economically disadvantaged areas or neighborhoods and communities in which half of the school children are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year.

Eligibility may also be determined by census information, via use of site-level Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) information, or by use of individual eligibility of children. The federally-funded SFSP is administered on behalf of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the state’s education department.

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