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Summer Food Service Program

Status Report

August 2020


The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

provides free, healthy meals and snacks to youth in eligible communities during the summer months, when children lose access to school breakfast and lunch. These meals alleviate summertime food insecurity, support children’s health, mitigate learning loss, and benefit whole communities, as the SFSP infuses local economies with federal and state reimbursement funds.

In 2019, 380 SFSP sponsors served meals at 2,961 sites across New York.

Still, the SFSP reached only one in four of the low-income children who ate free or reduced-price school lunch just a few months prior. There are even larger gaps in access and participation in upstate counties, on weekends, and after mid-August, when
many summer programs close for the year.

Barriers to SFSP participation include inadequate availability or accessibility of meal sites,

lack of awareness among families, limited meal options or activities to draw families to sites, and stigma. SFSP sponsors, community partners, and state and federal administrators have worked strategically to address those barriers, conducting extensive outreach, recruiting new sites in underserved areas, and adopting innovative approaches to meal service. Persistent gaps in participation underscore the need for continued efforts with even more partners at the table, and for state and federal policy changes to strengthen the program. These comprehensive efforts will be especially vital as families and communities cope with the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We can and must do more to alleviate summertime childhood hunger,

building on the invaluable work already happening across the state. Hunger Solutions New York created this report to raise awareness about the benefits and reach of the SFSP, equip advocates and partners in their work to increase access, and highlight promising strategies and public policy priorities.

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