It’s a disturbing statistic, one in four Tennessee children face hunger every single day. Often, during the school year underprivileged youth only eat when they’re in school. It means the summer months can prove to be a difficult time for them and their families if they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
To help tackle this problem Congress established the Summer Food Service Program or SFSP. The program ensures that during a school break, low income youth 18-years-old or younger can receive nutritional meals provided during the school year by the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. The SFSP typically begins when school lets out in late spring and continues until school opens in the fall.
In 2018 the SFSP provided more than 1.5 million meals and snacks to children and youth nationwide. The federally funded program is administered by the Tennessee Department of Human Services. You can learn more about the program and how to apply by visiting the DHS web site here.
Find a Summer Food Service Program Site
To find a meal site near you use one of these options;
1. Visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks to use the Site Finder, or
2. Text “Summer Meals” to 97779, or
3. Call 1-866-348-6479
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sites may have also been announced in your local newspaper. United Way’s 2-1-1 phone system is also available for parents who are looking for information on SFSP sites in their local communities.
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Details
Additional details about the program:
• Meals are free for children and teens ages 18 and younger who come to a SFSP site.
• Meals are also provided to persons 19 and older who have a mental or physical disability and who participate during the school year in a public or private nonprofit school program established for individuals with disabilities.
• Food served is healthy and follows the nutrition guidelines of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).
• No application or proof of income is necessary—just bring your child to a SFSP site in your community.
In addition to healthy meals, many Summer Food Service Program sites offer fun learning and recreational activities. Kids and teens can eat a meal while staying active and enjoying time with friends. Sites are also registered with the USDA and held at safe local meeting places like schools, churches and community centers.
P-EBT is a federally funded COVID-19 relief program made possible through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Using P-EBT cards, the program provides nutritional assistance to National School Lunch Program participants and qualifying families to replace school meals missed due to COVID-19 related events.
Boosting Food Security
When people have food security, they have access to safe, nutritious food for a healthy and active life. Tennessee offers many statewide programs that promote food security and help families keep healthy food on the table year-round.
Find out more about programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). https://kidcentraltn.com/article/tennessee-offers-programs-to-boost-food-security
The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is offered in July and August in Tennessee. The FMNP provides locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs to families with limited resources. https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/fhw/farmers.html
Hunger and Health’s Feeding America program provides food to people in need through a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs. https://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/
Get information on eating healthy on a budget. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/budget
Learn more about household food insecurity in the U.S. https://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/pub-details/?pubid=84972
Learn about Family Resource Centers in Tennessee. https://www.kidcentraltn.com/article/family-resource-centers