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.

Summer Outreach Program


In 1992, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted The Massachusetts Childhood Hunger Relief Act in response to evidence that as many as 200,000 children in Massachusetts are affected by hunger. The Community Childhood Hunger identification Project not only described the scope of this problem of hunger but also concluded that two federally funded nutrition programs, the School Breakfast Program and the Summer Food Service Program were vastly underutilized. The Childhood Hunger Relief Act established an outreach program, the design of which will increase accessibility to and participation in the School Breakfast and Summer Food Service Programs for all children but especially low-income children. The outreach website provides resources and other information.

Statement of Need

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education established a School Breakfast and Summer Food Service Outreach Campaign in 1993. The campaign has included the following components: outreach community field work, Summer Food Service Program extension grants and start-up grants, advertising and promotion.

Outreach Partners

The Breakfast and Summer Outreach Program Grant was awarded to Project Bread. The grant period extends for five years. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been working closely with staff at Project Bread to expand and improve the participation of schools in the Summer Food Service Program.

Summer Food Service Resources

For more information:
Please contact: Robin Haunton , Amy Socolow , Irene Sedlacko , Jane Stoleroff or Kristen Torres . 781-338-6480

For further details, please contact the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Public Information Staff at 703-305-2281 or by mail at 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 906, Alexandria, Virginia 22302. Information about FNS programs is also available at Food and Nutrition Service website.

Last Updated: July 24, 2020

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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