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Food and Nutrition Programs

Summer Food Service Program

What Is the Summer Food Service Program?

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally-funded program from the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In Massachusetts, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) administers the SFSP.

The SFSP provides supplemental reimbursement to participating sponsoring organizations for the provision of nutritious foods to children and teens during the summer months, when schools are out of session. All meals and snacks served must meet federal guidelines and be offered at no separate cost to participants.

Meal sites can be open to kids and teens in the community at a park, community center, or public pool, or can be limited to an enrolled program such as a summer camp.

Where Can the SFSP Operate?

The Summer Food Service Program aims to serve individuals whose access to meals may be most interrupted by the end of the school year; therefore, communities in which 50% or more of the student population qualifies for free or reduced price meals are considered eligible locations for SFSP sites. Organizations can use the current list of schools in Massachusetts with at least 50% enrollment eligible for free or reduced-price meals to determine if their community is eligible to participate in the SFSP.

Enrolled programs and residential camps may also qualify as eligible for reimbursement under the SFSP, based on participant enrollment. Please see the USDA SFSP Administrative Guidance handbook for additional details on site eligibility and available SFSP site types.

During the summer months, individuals are able to search for open sites on the SFSP Site Mapper, offered through Project Bread's Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP).

Who Is Eligible to Get Meals? And How Many Meals Can Participants Receive Each Day?

The SFSP is designed to serve children and teens up through age 18. Individuals over 18, who are determined by a State educational agency to be mentally or physically handicapped and who participate in a school program for the mentally or physically handicapped, may receive meals through the Summer Food Service Program.

At most sites, participants receive either one or two meals a day. Residential camps and sites that primarily serve children from migrant households may be approved to serve up to three meals per day.

How Much Reimbursement Does the Government Provide?

Federal reimbursement is provided based on whether the program prepares meals or purchases meals, as well as in a rural area. Rates are available at Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) website

How Can an Organization Get Involved in the SFSP?

There are two ways for institutions to be involved in the SFSP—as a Sponsoring Organization or as a Site. Sponsoring Organizations assume the total financial and administrative responsibility for operating the Program, and Sites are the operational location where meals are served. An institution can serve in one or both capacities.

Please note that programs interested in participating as a Sponsoring Organization must:

  • Be a public or private-nonprofit organization
  • Demonstrate administrative and financial capacity to manage the food service
  • Provide year-round service to the community
  • Agree to follow all State and Federal regulations as they pertain to operating a USDA Child Nutrition Program

If your organization meets these requirements and is interested in participating in the SFSP as a Sponsoring Organization, there are several steps involved with onboarding and approval, including:

Between April 1st and June 15th, interested Institutions can complete the New SFSP Sponsor Interest Form. Please email a member of the Special Nutrition Programs Team with any questions about completing this form.

Eligible institutions will be contacted and required to complete introductory trainings prior to receiving the new sponsor application.

Applications will be reviewed by FNP staff, and final steps of onboarding, processing, and approval will be specific to each applicant.

Last Updated: February 8, 2024

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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