State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces Applications for Free Summer Meal Programs

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that applications are available for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO), both federally funded, state-administered programs that serve free meals to children eighteen and younger when school is out of session. Summer meals provide children with access to essential nutrition during school closures and the summer break.

Summer meal programs have provided children with essential meal service throughout the pandemic. From January 2021 through November 2021, nutrition programs including SFSP and SSO have provided more than 967 million meals to children throughout the state.

“Our summer meal sponsors were critical in allowing us to meet the demands brought on by the COVID crisis, and I commend our school districts and other organizations that made these meals possible,” Thurmond said. “The ability to feed the most vulnerable kids throughout the state, in multiple locations, would not be possible if these organizations did not participate.”

Summer meal sites are located in communities where at least half of the children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. All meals meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrition requirements, and no paperwork or personal information is required for children to participate. Organizations eligible to participate in summer meal programs include schools, camps, nonprofits, tribal governments, and government agencies. Applications are due by May 15, 2022.

In addition, beginning July 1, 2022, California will become the first state in the nation to implement a Universal Meals Program in which all children are eligible to receive a free breakfast and lunch regardless of their individual eligibility. Under the Universal Meals Program, public schools, county offices of education, and charter schools will offer breakfast and lunch to all students during school days, including summer school. The breakfast and lunch offered to students must meet the National School Lunch and School Breakfast meal pattern provided under those programs or either the SSO or SFSP.

For more information about Summer Meal Programs, visit the California Department of Education (CDE) Summer Meal Programs web page. For more information about the California Universal Meals Program, visit the CDE Nutrition What’s New web page. If your agency is interested in becoming a sponsor or hosting a meal site, contact the Summer Meals Unit at 800-952-5609 or SFSP@cde.ca.gov. If your organization is not able to provide meal services, please consider promoting Summer Meal Sites in your community. You can locate meal sites on the CDE Summer Meal Service Site web page. In addition, you can locate summer meals on your mobile phone by downloading the CDE California Meals for Kids Mobile Application.

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