Summer Meals Program Provides Free Meals to Low-Income Children, MSDE Seeks Additional Sponsors to Serve More Children

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The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) announced that federal funds are available to help faith-based organizations, summer camps, recreation and parks groups, migrant communities, and other agencies provide free meals to low-income children this summer.  The funds are available through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program designed to ensure that children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals during the school year continue to receive nutritious meals during the summer months.

MSDE, through the USDA, administers the SFSP. The program provides reimbursement to agencies for costs related to meals and snacks served to children from low-income areas and to low-income children attending camps and other programs throughout Maryland.  Statewide, less than 19 percent of the children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals participate in the SFSP.

“There are over 275,000 children in Maryland who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.  The SFSP offers a solution for families that depend on school meals during the school year,” said Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools.  “If we can increase the number of agencies and sites that offer this valuable program, we can serve more children. Those children, will, in turn, arrive at school next fall well-nourished and ready to learn.”

Reimbursement is available to agencies in areas where at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program or when 50 percent of the children, enrolled in a program, qualify.  Most agencies may be reimbursed for up to two meals/snacks a day.  Some, including migrant programs and camps, may be reimbursed for up to three meals daily.  The SFSP is open to children age 18 or younger and to people over 18 who are mentally or physically disabled.  It is an equal opportunity program serving all children regardless of race, color, age, national origin, sex, or disability.

SFSP agencies may include public or nonprofit private school systems, local, municipal, county, state, or federal government agencies, private nonprofit organizations, and residential summer camps.  Agencies interested in operating the SFSP should contact the MSDE at 410-767-0225.  The deadline for applications is May 18, 2007.  For information about organizations that participate in SFSP, visit or call 410-767-0225.

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