The Vermont Agency of Education (AOE) is soliciting sponsors for Vermont’s Summer Food Service Program. This program, also known as Summer Meals, is federally funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by the AOE Child Nutrition Programs team. Funds are available and sponsors are needed to provide meals to eligible children at summer food program sites. Organizations interested in becoming sponsors are urged to review the AOE’s Summer Food Service Factsheet.
“Nutrition is crucial to growth, development and learning,” said Secretary of Education Dan French. “Many of our students and families rely on free school meals to meet their nutritional needs, so summer can be hard for our lowest income families. Making sure students have access to nutritious meals during the summer is critical to their good health and ability to learn.”
School food service programs, including summer meals, are important for Vermont agriculture because they are major consumers of local produce. Increasing access to summer meals programs benefits families in Vermont communities and our farm economy.
Vermont Agency of Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said of the program, “Education never stops no matter the season. This is a valuable program for students so they get their education off on the right foot.”
“Vermont is a national leader in reaching children through summer feeding programs, yet only 1/3 of students who rely on school meals in our state are currently accessing summer meals,” said Anore Horton, Executive Director of Hunger Free Vermont. “It takes support from an entire community to make these summer meal programs accessible and impactful, and Hunger Free Vermont is proud to partner with Vermont Agency of Education to celebrate and promote summer meals. Summer meals help to close the opportunity gap and ensure that children return to school healthy, nourished and ready to learn.”
The AOE enters into agreements with sponsors to provide meals to eligible children in their area. Sponsors are reimbursed on a per-meal basis using USDA funds. Sponsors can be supervisory unions or school districts, private non-profit organizations, government entities, or non-profit residential camps. Sponsors operate sites where meals are provided. Examples of sites include schools, parks, housing complexes and libraries. Sponsors often have more than one site.
Sites established in low-income areas are “open” sites, where any child can eat a meal, no questions asked. Other types of sites must use individual child data to determine eligibility. Children who are members of 3SquaresVT or Reach Up households or meet the income eligibility guidelines are automatically eligible to receive free meals at these other sites.
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