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What is the Summer Food Service Program?

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was instituted to provide nutritious meals to children during the summer months when school is not in session. The program is funded by the United States Department​ of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

Sponsoring organizations include:

  • Public or private non-profit local education agencies;
  • Entities of state, ​​​local, municipal or county government;
  • Residential camps; and
  • Private non-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) status.

Who qualifies for participation in the program?

The SFSP is directed towards children in areas of high need. As part of the application process, sponsors must document 50% eligibility of the area or individual participants they intend to serve. Eligibility can be determined through:

  • Free and reduced-price school lunch statistics,
  • State or local government studies plotting low-income areas,
  • Updated census tract data, or
  • Individual documentation.

If the service meets the eligibility criteria, all meals served to children are eligible for reimbursement. Residential camps are an exception since they can only claim meals served to children that qualify through individual documentation. The SFSP defines a child as anyone 18 years of age or younger or any person 21 ​years of age or younger with a mental or physical disability that attends an ISBE certified school program during the school year.

How are sponsors reimbursed for meals?

Reimbursements are based on the number of reimbursable meals served multiplied by the sum of the administrative and operational rates. Sponsors must maintain complete records to document all costs and meals they claim for reimbursement.

What are the sponsor's responsibilities for administering the program?

Responsibilities for the program include:

  • Submit an annual application to participate in the program,
  • Verify the eligibility of service sites,
  • Train all personnel about the SFSP regulatory requirements,
  • Offer meals at no cost to children,
  • Serve meals that meet the federal meal pattern requirements,
  • Take meal counts at point of service,
  • Conduct on-site reviews of meal service,
  • Submit claims for reimbursement,
  • Maintain financial and meal count records to substantiate claims,
  • Accept final financial and administrative responsibility for all activities associated with the program, and
  • Offer all services without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability or national origin.

How can you apply to become a sponsor?

First year sponsors must complete the required online training modules provided by ISBE staff once an online application has been received. The online system will be available the first week of February.​​​​

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