By Alicia Stephens, Alaska Child Nutrition Programs
Alaska’s children need your help this summer. On average, nearly 36,000 Alaskan children received free or reduced-price school meals through the USDA National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in fiscal year 2013, while only about 4,000 participated in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The SFSP provides reimbursement for up to three meals a day to all children served at approved sites.
Summer Food Service Programs provide children with nutritious meals throughout the summer when schools are closed. These meals help maintain children’s health gained through the school year and assists families in stretching their summer food dollars. These programs provide a safe place for children to go and also provide summer employment or volunteer opportunities to the local community.
Recently, Earl S. Johnson, the Director of Office of Family Assistance under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, signed a letter of support for SFSPs to use TANF funds for administering the Summer Food Service Program. The letter and supporting information can be found here.
Alaska Child Nutrition Programs encourages tribal organizations to be creative as they contemplate offering SFSP. Sometimes these food programs are very simple; providing sack lunches or snacks that have been prepared in the local school kitchen or café, and distributed at a convenient location for kids. A tribal organization may work in collaboration with other organizations such as State of Alaska Parks or National Forest Service to provide lunches. A tribal organization does not need to have any type of organized summer program, and may operate strictly as a sponsor that feeds kids at an approved feeding site.
Some possibilities for your organization to be involved in the program include:
• Becoming a program sponsor
• Becoming a program site under an existing sponsor
• Preparing and selling meals to other sponsors
• Providing activities, volunteers, and nutrition education materials to local sites
• Sharing information on the SFSP with others in your community
• Escorting small children to and from feeding sites
*As a site or sponsor, your organization could take advantage, where applicable, of the “Native/Migrant” site eligibility requirements. In the case of a “Native/Migrant” site, eligibility is determined by a tribal authority that can certify that the site serves predominantly (greater than 50%) Alaska Native or Migrant children.
Requirement to Participate:
• Serve meals that meet minimum USDA meal pattern requirements
• Follow meal counting and claiming procedures
• Complete required paperwork requirements
• Attend mandatory training in March or April
• Deadline for SFSP applications is June 15, 2015
Please contact Alicia Stephens, SFSP Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org (907) 465-4788 for more information.