Summer Food Service Program for Children

To assist States, through grants-in-aid and other means, to conduct nonprofit food service programs for low-income children during the summer months and at other approved times, when schools are out of session or are closed for vacation.

Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - See Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Program Accomplishments


Uses and Use Restrictions

Funds are made available for disbursement to eligible service institutions (sponsors) which provide free meals to children in areas where at least 50 percent of the children meet the income eligibility criteria for free and reduced price lunches.

Meals may be served to children 18 and younger, and to individuals over 18 who participate in State approved school programs for persons with disabilities.

The program generally operates during the months of May through September at site locations where regularly scheduled food services are provided for children.

Sites may also participate in the program from September through May if the school is closed because of an emergency situation.

Service institutions operating food programs for children on school vacation under a continuous year-round calendar may apply for participation in other months.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 extends cost accounting procedures commonly known as the "Simplified" Summer Food Service Program to all sponsors in all States equals the maximum per meal reimbursement rater.

Reimbursement may be paid for one meal and one snack or two meals per child each day.

Camps and sites primarily serving children of migrant workers may be approved to serve up to three reimbursable meals each day.

Meals must meet minimum requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Funds are also paid to participating State agencies for State administrative expenses related to employing personnel, including travel and related expenses, and to supervise and provide technical assistance to service institutions operating the program.

Federal program funds for the Summer Food Service Program for Children are provided to each State agency in a Child Nutrition block grant along with program funds for the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program for Children, the National School Lunch Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Congress has given some leeway to States to determine how this block of money will actually be allocated among these programs at the State level based on program needs.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

The State or U.S.

Territory agency applies for and signs an annual agreement to receive Federal funds for disbursement.

Where the State does not administer the program, an applicant institution may sign an agreement and receive funds directly from USDA.

Beneficiary Eligibility

A service institution that conducts a regularly scheduled program for children from areas in which poor economic conditions exist is eligible to participate in the program. Such institutions include public or private nonprofit school food authorities; public or private nonprofit colleges or universities operating the National Youth Sports Program during the months of May to September; and units of local, municipal, county, or State governments. Other private nonprofit organizations are eligible to participate under certain conditions. Service institutions which develop food service programs for children during school vacations under a continuous school calendar may also participate. Public or private nonprofit residential or nonresidential summer camps may also participate; however, at camps, reimbursement will only be paid for meals served to enrolled children who are individually determined to be eligible for free and reduced price school meals under USDA Income Eligibility Guidelines.


The allowability of costs incurred by States in administering the program will be determined in accordance with USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations (7 CFR Parts 3016 and 3019).

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This program is eligible for coverage under E.O.

12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process required by the State.

Application Procedures

Service institutions may apply directly to the responsible State administering agency. In Virginia where the State does not administer the program, the application is directed to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service regional office. This program is subject to the provisions of USDA's Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations (7 CFR Parts 3016 and 3019).

Award Procedures

When an application is approved, the service institution (sponsor) enters into an agreement with the appropriate administering agency for the duration of summer program operations. If the institution is a school food authority that operates another Child Nutrition Program (NSLP, CACFP, SMP, or SBP) with the same administering agency, the institution must have a single, permanent agreement.


A State Management Administration Plan is due February 15. States establish the deadline date for sponsor applications; however, no applications can be accepted after June 15.


Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, Sections 9, 13 and 14, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 1758, 1761 and 1762a.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Not applicable to States. States must render a decision within 30 calendar days of receipt of a complete and correct application from a service institution. If an incomplete application is received, the State agency shall notify the applicant within 15 days and provide technical assistance to complete the application.


The administering agency must have a hearing procedure for local service institution grievances.



Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Program funds are earned by the States and institutions on a per meal reimbursement basis with rates adjusted annually on January 1, to reflect changes in the "Food Away from Home" series of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers. This program has no maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

For the period covered by the agreement.

Post Assistance Requirements


Service institutions file monthly reports on program operations to claim reimbursement for meals served.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133, "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-profit Organizations," State and Local Governments, and Non-profit organizations that expend $500,000 or more under Federal awards within any fiscal year shall have either a single audit or (in certain cases) a program specific audit made for that year. Audits may be conducted less frequently under conditions specified in A-133.


Service institutions must maintain full and accurate records of program operations for a period of 3 years after the end of the fiscal year to which they pertain. However, where there are unresolved audit findings, records must be retained until there is satisfactory resolution of the audit issues.

Financial Information

Account Identification



FY 07 $297,932,607; FY 08 est $312,637,000; and FY 09 est $328,934,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

State grants vary according to participation in the program.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

7 CFR Part 225 regulations and the Summer Food Service Program fact sheet, are available at no charge. Administrative and nutrition guidance is available at no charge to program participants from the administering agency.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

See Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Headquarters Office

Director, Child Nutrition Division, Food and Nutrition Service, Department of Agriculture, Alexandria, VA 22302. Contact: Cynthia Long, Director. Telephone: (703) 305-2590.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals


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