OSDE child nutrition programs seek Summer Food Service sponsors

OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 26, 2018) – Sponsoring organizations for the 2018 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) are now being sought by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) Child Nutrition programs. Eligible sponsors include public or governmental agencies, private, nonprofit residential summer camps and private, non-profit organizations.
This program provides nutritious meals for children from needy areas who participate in summer educational or recreational programs and for eligible children enrolled in summer camps. Good sponsors are critical to the success of this important program. Children require good nutrition for the development of their minds and bodies, and this program is necessary to ensure that every child in Oklahoma comes back to school in the fall ready to learn.
Last summer, Oklahoma’s participation in the Summer Food Service Program increased 14 percent over the previous year, resulting in 1.6 million free meals for children age 18 and under between May and August. Almost 200,000 additional meals were provided during summer 2017, in part due to a public awareness campaign, #FoodforThought, created by OSDE.
In Oklahoma, nearly 62 percent of public school students are eligible for free- or reduced-priced lunches. Previously, only 6.4 percent of those same students took part in feeding programs during the summer months when school was not in session, ranking Oklahoma 51st in the nation.
“I thank the public and private organizations that stepped up last summer to tackle the issue of food insecurity in Oklahoma, but our work as a state is not done,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. 
“An estimated 1 in 4 Oklahoma children is considered food insecure. Providing these meals at no cost to thousands of families during summer break results in better health, greater focus and overall higher cognitive function when children return to school in the fall. It’s also the right thing to do – no child should go hungry in Oklahoma.”
Increasing access to child nutrition by removing barriers to participation in food programs is one of the state’s six key initiatives under Oklahoma Edge, OSDE’s eight-year strategic plan to provide Oklahoma students with a competitive edge. The agency also has set a goal of increasing the number of meals served in the summer feeding program by 30 percent by 2025.
Children age 18 and under may receive meals through SFSP. A person 19 years of age and over who has a mental or physical disability (as determined by a State or local educational agency) and who participates during the school year in a public or nonprofit private school program established for the mentally or physically disabled is also eligible to receive meals.
Needy areas are defined as those in which half of the children are eligible for free- and reduced-price meals in school. Eligibility may also be determined by census information or individual eligibility of children. Financial assistance is given to approved sponsors to assist with the cost of obtaining, preparing and serving food under the program, including administrative costs.
Sadly, too many of our communities are without a summer food service program sponsor. We welcome your partnership; work with us to ensure no Oklahoma child suffers the cruelty of hunger.
To become a SFSP sponsor and to learn more about the required upcoming trainings, contact Dee Houston at (405) 522-4943 or dee.houston@sde.ok.gov.
The deadline for SFSP sponsors to apply is April 30.
In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.
To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: 
http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; fax: (202) 690-7442; or email: program.intake@usda.gov.
Last updated on January 26, 2018