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Free Meals - For Kids!

Background

Today, while nearly 1.6 million children in New York State receive free or reduced-price school meals for nine months out of the year, only approximately 400,000 children participate in SFSP. The SFSP was created to reduce the likelihood of nutritional risk for low income children during the months when schools are closed for summer recess.  By providing free meals at participating summer meal sites such as schools, parks, pools, recreation centers, camps, housing authorities and other neighborhood locations, children can receive the nutritious meals they need.  Through SFSP, schools, governments and nonprofit organizations receive federal and State funds to continue a child's physical and social development with the number of meals and dates varying by site.

Because summer meal sites are selected based on community demographics and pervasiveness of need, any child 18 years of age or younger who comes to an approved open site may receive meals without the need for an eligibility determination to be conducted.  Most Summer Meal Program sites are ‘open sites’, which means they are open to the community and do not require that children sign up in advance or even ‘check-in’ at the site.  Children and teens must simply show up at the site to get their meal.  At camps, children eligible for free and reduced-price meals may receive SFSP meals.  Young adults over age 18 who are enrolled in school programs for persons with disabilities may also participate.

Program Implications 
The USDA Summer Meal Program can help families, currently in receipt of SNAP, with replacing the school meals their children receive during the school year.  Getting the word out to SNAP families about Summer Meals is a key factor to ensure that children who rely on school breakfast and lunch during the school year have access to good nutrition this summer.  The SFSP will operate this summer throughout New York State from June 17 through September 2, 2019

Districts are asked to help increase SFSP awareness by:

ž Including the following information about the SFSP on your county website regularly visited by SNAP applicants and recipients:

-   Calling 2-1-1 (Upstate), 3-1-1 (NYC) will provide SFSP information

-   USDA National Hunger Hotline: 866-3-HUNGRY or 877-8-HAMBRE

-   Letting users know that more information may be found at: www.Summermealsny.org

-   Online mapping tool is available to locate the nearest open sites: 

     http://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks

 ž Informing clients, they may also use the text hotline. Texting “food” or “comida” to 877-877 will provide the closest open site data information.

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