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Food and Nutrition Programs

Summer Food Service Program

What Is the Summer Food Service Program?

The Summer Food Service Program provides free, nutritious meals to low-income children during school vacations.

How Does the Program Operate?

The program is administered at the Federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), an agency of the U. S. Department of Agriculture. State education agencies administer most programs at the State level, but other State agencies may also be designated. Food and Nutrition Service regional offices administer a few state programs. Locally, it is operated by approved sponsors, which receive reimbursement from USDA through their State agencies for the meals they serve. Sponsors provide meals at a central site, such as a school or community center. All meals are served free to eligible participants.

Where Does the Program Operate?

The Summer Food Service Program operates in low-income areas where half or more of the children are from households with income at or below 185 percent of the Federal poverty guideline. Residential and non residential camps also may get reimbursement for eligible children through the SFSP.

Who Is Eligible to Get Meals?

Children 18 and under and people 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.

How Many Meals Do Participants Receive Each Day?

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 Long Has the SFSP Been in Existence?

SFSP was first created as part of a larger pilot program in 1968 and became a separate program in 1975.

Last Updated: January 12, 2022

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

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


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