NASHVILLE—The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) 2017 application is now available. SFSP is a federally funded program intended to ensure that children who benefit from free and reduced price meals during the school year, have access to nutritious meals during the summer months. The department encourages Tennesseans with a desire to alleviate child hunger and strengthen communities to learn more about the program.

To kick off the application cycle, the Department recently hosted the fourth annual SFSP Summer Summit at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. The event brought together guests from the United States Department of Agriculture Food Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS), non-profit organizations, past summer food program sponsors, partner state agencies, national subject matter experts, and many others. The Summer Summit served as an idea bank, resource, and networking opportunity that allows SFSP sponsors to maximize efficiency and reach children in need.

“The Summer Summit is a great way to bring everyone to the table to kick off this year’s Summer Food Service Program. Organizations are here with an intense focus to learn, brainstorm, and make a difference for children and families,” said TDHS Commissioner, Dr. Raquel Hatter. “We appreciate their enthusiasm and look forward to a successful summer. A special thanks to our community partners and USDA-FNS for their support of this very important session.”

Last summer, more than 70 SFSP sponsors across the state helped provide approximately 3.6 million meals in support of children and families. There remains an unmet need, as one in four Tennessee children live in food insecure households where parents at times have to decide between food and other household necessities. Inadequate access to nutritional foods for children is known to have long lasting negative health impacts.

“Partnerships are key to the success of summer meals. Program sponsors and community partners serve more children and families when meals are made available in locations where physical or enrichment programming are in place,” said Derrick Lambert, Program Manager with the Share Our Strength, No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices. “Working together to feed children where they live, learn, and play helps maximize awareness of and participation in federal meal programs that combat summer hunger and support school readiness.

Every child in Tennessee deserves regular access to healthy meals when school is out, and the Summer Food Service Program is one of our best tools to make sure no child goes hungry at this crucial time of year. This year’s summit brought together key players to help make this vision a reality.”

The Summer Food Service Program is available to eligible sponsors including public schools, religious organizations, private non-profit organizations, government entities, and non-profit residential camps.

Sponsors are reimbursed on a per meal basis for meals served to eligible children and may sponsor the Summer Food Service Program at one or more sites.

Children age 18 and under are eligible to receive meals through the SFSP. In addition, a person 19 years of age and older who has a mental or physical disability and participates during the school year in a public or private non-profit school program established for individuals with disabilities, is also eligible to receive meals.

Applications are available from February 1 until May 1.

If your organization is interested in sponsoring the SFSP in your community, or becoming a feeding site under an existing sponsor, please contact the Department of Human Services by e-mail at TNSFSP.DHS@tn.gov or by phone at (615) 313-4749.

For more information on the Summer Food Service Program, please visit: http://tn.gov/humanservices/topic/learn-about-the-summer-food-service-program.

To add your strength to the effort to end hunger, send an email to NoHungryTennesseeChild.DHS@tn.gov.

Join the call to action for Tennesseans to fight hunger in their local communities by donating, volunteering, raising awareness and other activities that support the end of hunger.