Indiana Department of Education announces summer food program

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Education is seeking community partners to participate in the 2015 Summer Food Service Program. The Summer Food Service Program fills a gap for thousands of Hoosier students who live without access to proper nutrition during the summer months.

In 2014, the support of 257 sponsoring agencies and 1,375 meal sites enabled the program to serve more than three million free meals and snacks to low-income Hoosier children. However, the Indiana Department of Education is encouraging current sponsors to expand their programs by adding new locations and extending meal service throughout the summer months to address child hunger.

During the summer of 2014, a growing number of sponsors used new and innovative approaches to operate mobile feeding sites, taking free meals directly to children in parks, neighborhoods and community centers. Because of an increase in the number of sponsors and the increased use of mobile sites, the program served an additional 84,000 meals to students during the 2014 summer months than in the previous year.

However, the limited availability of meal sites and a lack of transportation continue to be obstacles in both rural Indiana and heavily populated cities alike, so the department is encouraging innovative solutions among all local stakeholders. This includes creative partnerships between local government, school corporations, community organizations and private sector groups.

The program, created in 1968, is a federally funded program operated through the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by states.

Organizations are reimbursed for providing nutritious meals to eligible children in low-income areas during the summer. Sponsors, including schools, summer camps, community centers, and other organizations that focus on the well-being of children and families, must adhere to USDA regulations regarding the meal service and record-keeping.

The Indiana Department of Education will host multiple training workshops for sponsors in Indianapolis and around the state. Attendance is required by all new and returning sponsoring agencies. To attend a workshop,  contact Marcia Yurczyk or Tina Skinner at the Indiana Department of Education at 317-232-6610 or by email at myurczyk@doe.in.gov or tskinner@doe.in.gov. While additional feeding sites might be added by sponsors throughout the summer, the deadline to become a sponsor is April 30.

For more information on the program, visit http://www.doe.in.gov/nutrition/summer-food-service-program.