Thanks to Missoula’s breakfast and lunch programs, school-age children in low-income families don’t have to worry about going hungry during the school year.

It’s a different story in the summer months – unless people step up to help out with programs like the Summer Food Service Program. The program is actively looking for sponsors to help it get its ducks all lined up before the end of the school year.

Check it out, below:

Sponsors Needed for Summer Food Service Program

Help End Childhood Summer Hunger

Helena, MT— Now is the time for communities to start making plans to sponsor a Summer Food Service Program. The Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) is accepting applications for the 2014 Summer Food Service Program from public and private nonprofit schools as well as local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations that are interested in sponsoring a Summer Food Service Program.

“For many Montana families, summer is a difficult time of year,” said Superintendent Denise Juneau. “During the summer, children from low-income families do not have access to school breakfast or lunch and their families may have a hard time putting enough nutritious food on the table. The Summer Food Service Program can fill a critical nutrition gap.”

One in seven people in Montana live in households where there is not always enough food.  With nearly 48,000 children living in such households, hunger is a real issue for Montana families.

“The real problem in Montana is that only 17 out of every 100 kids who receive free or reduced price school meals also eat free SFSP meals during the summer,” notes Kate Devino, Chief Policy Officer at Montana Food Bank Network. “In our surveys around the state, we have found that many families do not know where the free summer meals for children are served. That’s why outreach and awareness are so important.”

The Summer Food Program provides federal funding to eligible sponsors to provide healthy meals and snacks to low-income children during the summer. For schools, summer programs have an added benefit since they combat “summer learning loss” by providing educational and enrichment activities. According to the National Summer Meals Survey Findings, of those that have participated in summer meals programs in the past, nine out of 10 would recommend attending the site to others and the same number are interested in using the program again.

Summer food sites such as schools, community centers, parks, or camps provide nutritious meals to children. To qualify as a site, the facility must be located in a low-income neighborhood (at least 50 percent or more of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price meals) or must serve primarily low-income children (at least 50 percent of the children must be eligible for free or reduced-price meals). Summer camps and sites serving primarily migrant children also can participate, but under slightly different rules.

Sponsors can get Summer Food Service Program applications and information by contacting the OPI, School Nutrition Programs, at PO Box 202501, Helena MT  59620 or telephone (406) 444-2521 or (406) 444-2501 or by emailing The deadline for new sponsors to apply for the SFSP is May 16, 2014.

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