Summer Food Service Program
Established since 1975, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provides free meals to children so they may receive the same high quality nutrition during school vacations that they get in school cafeterias during the school year. Continued nutrition helps children return to school after summer ready to learn.
What is Summer Food Service Program?
The SFSP is a federally funded program operated nationally by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered in Pennsylvania by the Department of Education. Non-profit organizations with summer programs may sponsor the program and receive reimbursement for qualifying meals served to eligible children if served at approved SFSP sites.
There is a great need for the SFSP, particularly in those areas of the Commonwealth where many children are eligible for free or reduced price school meals.
The following publications contain additional helpful information to learn more about SFSP:
Onsite Resources for SFSP include the following:
- PAsummermeals.com: A searchable map for the locations of federally-funded free summer meal programs in Pennsylvania. NOTE: This site takes some time to load.
- www.summerfood.usda.gov: United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and contains national information.
- www.summerfood.usda.gov/FAQs.htm: The USDA answers many questions about the SFSP.
- FRAC.org: Food Research and Action Center is a national anti-hunger organization that lobbies on behalf of Food Stamps, the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program, and other federal food and nutrition programs.
- Summer Food Programs in Other States
How to Get Involved
- Become a Sponsor
- Operate a Summer Food Site
- Be a Meal Vendor
- Volunteer to Help a Sponsor or Site
|Information for Potential Sponsors|
To become a sponsor, complete the preliminary paperwork, complete an application online in PEARS (Pennsylvania Electronic Application and Reimbursement System), and attend training with the Department of Education.
The preliminary paperwork is located online at www.pears.ed.state.pa.us. When you enter into this website you will see four bulleted items. Choose "New Sponsors Application Package", then "Summer Food Service Program". Go to the "New Sponsors Application Information SFSP" and print all the forms in that section.
First, obtain a Vendor Number. The instructions for obtaining the Vendor Number is the first item in the list of forms to be printed. Once you have obtained the Vendor Number, complete the remaining forms. Enter your Vendor Number on the Policy Statement.
A copy of you 501(c)(3) Tax Exemption Letter from the Federal IRS is required. All forms are to be completed, dated and signed then sent to the Department of Education, 333 Market Street, 4th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333.
After the forms have been reviewed and processed, you will receive an email with your password and login for access into PEARS. This will enable you to enter the Application for Participation, Site Information for each site and Budget. Once these are completed, you will be scheduled for training in the operation of the program.
If you currently participate in another child nutrition program, print the Agreement, Policy Statement and CN PEARS Authorization Form. After the forms have been processed you will receive an email stating that you will be able to access PEARS with the current password and login that you use to access the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
For all new sponsors, training is done in your region. Subsequent annual training is completed online through E-learning. If there are major changes in regulations to the program or PEARS, you will be notified of training that will be scheduled in multiple areas throughout Pennsylvania that you will be required to attend.
The SFSP toolkit will help sponsors and sites create outreach materials such as letters to parents and press releases. The link to the outreach toolkit is http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Summer/library/toolkit.pdf. This toolkit will help you develop outreach methods to suit your specific needs.
|Information for Potential Sites|
Some organizations do not have the financial or administrative ability to operate the program, but they can supervise a food service for children, along with recreational or enrichment activities at a site. If you supervise a site you will:
- Attend your sponsor's training
- Supervise activities and meal service at your site
- Distribute meals by following SFSP guidelines
- Keep daily records of meals served
- Store food appropriately
- Keep the site clean and sanitary
You can look for an established sponsor in your area from the sponsor list. Please contact them if you would like to offer your location as a feeding site.
Site eligibility is determined by the location of your site and the needs of the area. There are several formulas for determining this, including census data and school building data. Contact the Department of Education to determine the eligibility of your site location by school building data. (800.331.0129)
To determine eligibility through census data, visit:
Click the Find box. Enter your site address. If your site will qualify as open, it will appear as green on the map.
Sites may contract with a food service company or they may prepare the food themselves. Meal patterns can be followed by completing the following menu guidelines. Reimbursements are based on serving nutritious meals to children that follow the set meal pattern.
|Information for Becoming a Vendor|
Organizations with kitchens and food service staff, including schools, commercial companies, public or non-profit institutions, can participate in the SFSP as vendors. Instead of administering or supervising a meal service site, a vendor sells prepared meals under an agreement or a contract with an approved SFSP sponsor. As a vendor, you will:
- Meet appropriate health and sanitation standards
- Prepare meals meeting Federal nutritional guidelines
- Deliver meals on schedule
- Keep delivery records
- Fulfill the terms of the agreement or contract
List of Current Vendors (Excel)
|Information for Volunteers|
If your organization cannot take on the responsibilities of a sponsor or a site, you can partner with a sponsor to provide activities that make summer fun, such as:
- Arts and Crafts
- Kite Flying
- Life Skills
|Just to name a few!|
In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call toll free (866) 632-9992 (Voice). Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
For more information about the Summer Food Service Program, becoming a sponsor, food sites, volunteers or vendors contact:
Mary Ringenberg l Education Administration Specialist
Pennsylvania Department of Education l Bureau of Budget and Fiscal Management
333 Market Street l Harrisburg PA 17126
Phone: 717.783.6501 l 800.331.0129 ext. 125 l Fax: 717.783.6566