The state Department of Agriculture is seeking organizations to help provide meals to children in low-income areas during the summer months through the agency’s Summer Food Service Program.
Begun in 1976 as an outgrowth of the National School Lunch Program, the summer food program is designed to reach those who are age 18 or younger in New Jersey’s economically disadvantaged areas. It also is open to people over 18 who are mentally or physically handicapped and who participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for the disabled.
The federally-funded program reimburses participating organizations for meals served to children who live in areas in which at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.
Applicants may include public or private nonprofit school food authorities, municipal, county or state governments, public or private nonprofit organizations, residential summer camps or national youth sports programs.
Organizations approved to provide the meals are responsible for managing the feeding sites.
Most organizations may be reimbursed for up to two meals a day – lunch and either breakfast or a snack. Those serving primarily migrant children may be reimbursed for up to three meals a day.
Residential camps may serve up to three meals a day, but they are reimbursed only for meals served to children eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
More than 385,000 children in New Jersey receive free or reduced price meals in their schools under the federal program. In 2011, only 11 percent of the children in the state participating in the National School Lunch Program had access to nutritious meals in the summer. 89 organizations participated in the 2011 summer food program.
In addition to the summer food program, the Agriculture Department administers a number of programs devoted to improving the quality and provision of food to residents, in particular those most in need, including school nutrition programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
The department also administers The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which distributes federally-donated commodities to six emergency feeding organizations statewide to distribute federally-donated foods to more than 700 soup kitchens, food pantries and public feeding sites serving the state's neediest citizens.
To obtain an application, call (609) 292-4498. The deadline for submission of applications is June 15.
—TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM